ZZZS public health fund marking 30th anniversary

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Ljubljana – The ZZZS manager of public health funds was founded 30 years to the day as the institution in charge of mandatory health insurance, which is paid by employers and employees. The Institute of Health Insurance (ZZZS) says it is aware of the many challenges ahead, including uncertain and changing business conditions in 2022.

Director general Tatjana Mlakar believes that over the past 30 years, ZZZS has proved to be managing the collected contributions economically and providing quality health services while enabling introduction of new medical technologies, treatments, medications and medical devices.

Irena Ilešič Čujovič, chairman of the management board, meanwhile regrets that ZZZS is not fully comparable to public health funds in for instance Austria, Germany or France.

“The government increasingly arbitrarily interferes in many, even purely expert and insurance decisions, which weakens ZZZS’s effectiveness and the successful functioning of the health system,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday.

ZZZS thus expects that its role as an insurer will be enhanced and that health funds will be “autonomously managed by insured persons as services users and employers as contribution payers”.

It also expects new legislation to make it a more active buyer of health services, enable it to set realistic prices, buy health programmes based on the needs of the insured persons and to introduce modern models of services payment.

ZZZS also advocates introduction of “a budget safety mechanism” that would cushion fluctuations in the economy and demographics, as well as consequences of various political decisions and legal changes for which decision-makers have not ensured funds.

Last year, ZZZS provided for more than EUR 49 million worth of services from mandatory insurance, with almost 17.8 million prescriptions issued, said Mlakar.

With robust economic growth, ZZZS finished 2021 with a surplus of EUR 120 million.

However, the fund is planning a loss for 2022, which will be probably higher than the EUR 149 million deficit envisaged in the financial plan adopted in December.

This is because “new financial obligations” have been imposed over the past three months – nurses have negotiated higher wages and the cost of sick pay on the employer was shortened from 30 to 20 working days at the expense of ZZZS.

Since the obligations will exceed ZZZS’s own sources this year, ZZZS would like the government to change the decree on the highest volume of expenditure as soon as possible.

Mlakar also said that “additional long-term financial sources” will be needed to make ZZZS financially sustainable.

What is more, business conditions are also “very uncertain and changeable” because of the Covid-19 epidemic, unpredictable legal changes and further pay talks.

Mlakar announced that ZZZS would carefully monitor revenue-expenditure trends and that a supplementary financial plan will have to be drafted.

ZZZS will formally mark the anniversary on 8 June and open an exhibition to present the milestones in its development.