The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) has called on the government to not implement a decision to increase the price of supplementary health insurance, saying that it will not result in better health services but will curtail citizens' social security while some categories, particularly pensioners, will fall below the poverty level.

The government is forgetting that the vast majority of citizens receive wages that are below the average pay, a great deal receive their wages irregularly, pensioners have small pensions and an increase of HRK 19 in supplementary health insurance is a lot for them, a former labour and pension system minister, SDP MP Mirando Mrsic told a press conference.

Croatia has to remain a welfare state and reforms that need to be implemented must not jeopardise the social security of citizens as only healthy workers can be productive. If they won't be able to afford health care, which is a fundamental right, how can we build a welfare state, he asked.

The government's measure directly impacts citizens' living standards and instead of that, the government should be working on improving them and not bail out the budget at the expense of the poorest, Mrsic warned. Raising the price of health insurance will not ensure better health services and it's obvious the government doesn't know how to patch up the budget deficit, he said.

That is why the SDP calls on the government to revoke the measure, he said.

A former health minister, SDP MP Sinisa Varga said that he saw a huge problem in basic health protection and that the health system would cave in with the announced supra-standard and the higher price of health insurance and the exceptionally liberal attitude to additional casual work for doctors.

This is in fact the privatisation of Croatia's health system and a policy by which only the rich will have proper health care and the poor will have to get by. The SDP believes that health protection must be accessible for everyone under the same conditions and that services have to be of a better quality, Varga said.

"According to our estimates, there is no reason to increase the price of health insurance and there are other reform measures available in the health system without burdening citizens," he underscored.

The Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) has around HRK 23 billion at its disposal and it is sufficient to maintain the current level of health protection and implementation of reform measures without having to further burden citizens, Varga said.

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