Photograph: Boontje

The Croatian association of health system employers HUPUZ on Tuesday called on Prime Minister-Designate Tihomir Oreskovic to ensure financial stability for the health system but without cuts and privatisation of the public health system.

In an open letter to Oreskovic, HUPUZ recalls that Croatia invests around EUR 700 per capita in the health system annually, which is half the amount invested in Slovenia, five times less than in Austria and six times less than in Canada, while the quality and availability of health care is almost equal to health care in those countries.

The main problem of the national health system is the economy, with the number of workers being 289,000 below the EU average, which results in a deficit of around HRK 3.5 billion annually in the health system, says HUPUZ.

Such an economy, almost at the very bottom of the EU ranking, must not result in a deterioration of the health system as suggested by "some irresponsible economic analysts," say employers in the health system.

An unsuccessful experiment with cuts in the health system was attempted by the outgoing government, which reduced health contributions from 15% to 13% so as to unburden the economy, however, the result was an additional debt of HRK 2.4 billion that pushed the health system to the brink of collapse, with no positive effects for the economy, HUPUZ says.

The government then rectified its mistake by separating the health system from the state treasury and restored the health contribution rate to 15%, which clearly shows that economic recovery does not require cuts in the health system but other solutions, such as simplifying the process of starting a business, reviewing physical plans, introducing flat-rate taxes, reducing red tape, fighting corruption, etc, said HUPUZ.

HUPUZ is satisfied with initial announcements by the Bridge party and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party in that regard, and it supports decentralisation of the health system, keeping the current public health system, maintaining the social sensitivity and availability of the system to all citizens, streamlining hospital capacity, determining real prices of health services, reducing prices of drugs, and reviewing the list of medicines that are paid for by the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO).

The financial sustainability of the health system requires ensuring HRK 24 billion, which is the current amount ensured through health insurance contributions and existing legal solutions, by keeping the HZZO outside the state treasury and respecting legal guidelines that define obligations of the state budget towards the HZZO in the amount of HRK 4.8 billion.

A successful and sustainable health system requires greater autonomy of health institutions, determining real prices of medical services, and ensuring better access to the labour market by liberalising the employment process in the health sector, HUPUZ says, calling also for the continuation of the reform of primary health care system by keeping community health centres in charge of primary health care and as the coordinators of mobile teams and concession-holders operating as part of those centres. It also calls for the functional integration of hospitals.

HUPUZ says the emigration of medical workers should be stopped by introducing a system of financial bonuses and making the wage system much more flexible.

HUPUZ is strongly against the privatisation of the current health system because it believes that it would mean the end of the health system which citizens have had for centuries and which they want. It says this does not mean that it advocates an exclusively public health system but stresses that the Croatian health system is a complementary system of private and public medical care provided under the same conditions.

Related stories

Health system debt in 2015 down by HRK 350 mln

Bridge dismisses speculation about health system privatisation

HDZ: Health care costs won't go up

Healthcare system gets HRK 2.2 billion more in 2015

Supplementary health insurance to increase to HRK 89

Latest news

At least 20 injured in Serbian ammunition factory blast

At least 20 persons were injured in an explosion at the ammunition factory in the central Serbian city of Kragujevac on Tuesday, public broadcaster RTS said in the afternoon.

Germany calls in Turkish ambassador over detained reporter

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called the Turkish ambassador into the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on Tuesday for talks over German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who was remanded in custody in Turkey.

Ukrainian minister wants to remove blockade of rebel-held east

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Tuesday that he has requested permission for the police force to disband an activist-enforced blockade of the country's rebel-held east.

Israeli police nearly finished evicting West Bank settlement

Israeli police were nearly finished evicting an Israeli settlement in the West Bank slated for demolition on Tuesday as they pulled dozens of protesters from the last of nine houses.

Serbia to hold presidential election on April 2 - media

Serbia will hold a presidential election on April 2, and the vote will be formally called by Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic on March 2, media in Belgrade said on Tuesday.

India to remain fastest growing economy despite demonetization

India's economic growth fell to 7 per cent in the quarter ending December, taking a hit from the government's recent demonetization move, but the country remains the world's fastest growing major economy.

Investigating judge lifts precautionary measures on ex-Dinamo boss

A Zagreb County Court investigating judge on Tuesday lifted the precautionary measures that had led to the pre-trial detention of former Dinamo Zagreb Football Club manager Zdravko Mamic and if the decision becomes final, Mamic will also be paid back 14 million kuna (2 million euro) bail.

Erdogan lashes out at newspaper over report on military unrest

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday slammed Hurriyet newspaper over a report saying that military top brass was "restless" over criticisms against its leadership.

Serb ministers end boycott of Bosnian government

Serb ministers in the Bosnian Council of Ministers on Tuesday attended a session of the body, ending a boycott they began last week because of a request to revise an International Court of Justice ruling Serbia of genocide.

As Europe hardens its line on migration, children bear the brunt

The number of children arriving on their own in Europe doubled in 2016, and is set to increase this year. But the response by governments has not matched the need, pushing some into criminality and prostitution.

China considers subsidies for second child

The Chinese government is mulling paying parents to have a second baby, a year after it did away with its controversial one-child policy, state media reported Tuesday.

Business group urges Britain to delay Brexit if negotiations stall

The British government should push to extend Brexit negotiations if it is unable to agree a deal on leaving the European Union within two years, a business group said on Tuesday.

At least 1,500 child soldiers ensnared in Yemen war, UN says

Some 1,500 boys have been verified as child soldiers in Yemen, but the actual number of children who have been drawn into the war is probably far higher, a UN spokeswoman said Tuesday.

President says Croatia tolerant, marginal groups shouldn't be given attention

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday condemned the frequent incidents motivated by hate and intolerance and said marginal movements and isolated cases should not be given too much attention.

Austria identifies US-based Turk as source of cyberattacks

A string of cyberattacks against Austrian institutions has been linked to a Turkish suspect operating out of the US state of Kentucky, an Austrian newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an investigation by the army's intelligence agency.

Italy restores, returns IS-vandalized busts to Syria

Two ancient Roman busts, which were transported to Italy after being vandalized by the Islamic State extremist group in the Syrian city of Palmyra, have been restored and returned to Damascus, the Italian ministry of culture said Tuesday.

Norwegian state pension fund almost doubles return in 2016

The Norwegian state pension fund reported a return of almost 7 per cent in 2016 on the back of strong stock markets in the second half of the year, the Scandinavian country's central bank said Tuesday.

Croatian PM says sports needs to be given back to athletes

Commenting on an ultimatum the Bridge party made on Monday when it asked for a replacement of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) leadership, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that "sports needs to be given back to athletes."