Coalition and Left closer on health insurance issue
The opposition party wants to reform voluntary health insurance, which is paid as a flat-rate contribution of slightly EUR 30-plus a month regardless of one's income.
The reform is a centrepiece of its cooperation deal with the government, but it is unclear whether today's agreement makes Left-coalition relations any less turbulent.
Detailed calculations are yet to be made taking into account long-term macroeconomic and demographic projections, Health Minister Aleš Šabeder said after the meeting on Wednesday.
Still, it was agreed that top-up insurance could be folded into mandatory insurance (paid by employers and employees as a share of gross monthly salary) as of 2021.
It was also agreed this would not affect the level of rights enjoyed by those paying public health insurance, and that the measure be introduced in a development-oriented and financially sustainable manner, explained Left MP Matej T. Vatovec.
Insisting on the pace of the reform, the Left said the bill, which it outlined last week, could be filed to parliament this month and passed before the end of 2019.
The MP said this was a condition for the Left to vote for the 2020-2021 budget bills, to which Prime Minister Marjan Šarec intends to tie a vote of confidence.
Šabeder, however, said the issue should be tackled as part of comprehensive changes to the law on healthcare and health insurance, as part of in-depth reform.
He expects the Health Ministry could send the legislative changes to the government in June 2020, still in time to introduce the reform in 2021.
"A month to tackle such a complex issue, a health reform, is definitely not enough," he said, noting various proposals had been on the table for 15 years, so a month more or less made no difference.
Šabeder also stressed it was agreed the Finance Ministry and the ZZZS public health insurance fund should be included in the talks to get the figures right, as the current projections had been made on the basis of 2018, a year of relatively strong economic growth.
He noted there was a gap of EUR 60-70 million, whereas the cooling down of the economy and demographic trends have not even been taken into account yet, he warned.
Vatovec said the Left's calculations were very conservative, envisaging the public health insurance fund would need an additional EUR 66 million.
However, the final impact on the fund would be positive, with some EUR 30 million more available for healthcare, according to him.
The other coalition partners also hailed the meeting as "positive" and "constructive", highlighting the need for detailed calculations.
MP Bojana Muršič of the Social Democrats (SD) said they were on the right path to transform voluntary health insurance.
Jani Möderndorfer, an MP for the Modern Centre Party (SMC), said they all had the same goal, but the question was how to achieve it.
Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) MP Branko Simonovič recalled that abolishing top-up health insurance was one of the goals from the coalition agreement.
He believes that insurers - three of which collect top-up health insurance premiums amounting to around EUR 50 million annually - should also take part in the talks.
The Left and the coalition will resume health reform talks next week when they get fresh calculations.