The Health Ministry plans to increase the price of supplementary health insurance as of May 1 from the current HRK 70 per month to HRK 89, Health Minister Dario Nakic said on Wednesday.

Speaking with Croatian Radio, Nakic said that the government was considering how to stabilise finances in the health system which has a deficit of HRK 2.5 billion. We are trying to reduce expenditures, he said. He noted that there would be several measures to increase revenues and one of these was supplementary health insurance.

Citizens with the lowest incomes are exempt from paying for supplementary health insurance. We will not demand payment from people who do not have those funds, he said.

He announced a presentation of reform measures which include a reform of emergency services. He also mentioned an additional health insurance scheme for extra services which would be provided by private companies, while the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) would remain in charge of basic insurance.

Explaining the move at the government session, Nakic said that this was measure that would lead to an increase in revenue in the health system.

"This is a measure that we, unfortunately, had to make. This isn't our choice and I would rather that we didn't have to pay supplementary insurance at all but, unfortunately, that isn't possible and we will have to increase the rate for those who pay supplementary health insurance so that 900,000 of our citizens, students, pensioners, people with low incomes, blood and organ donors can continue to receive quality health protection," he said.

The measure is necessary, he said, because of the huge losses in the system which currently amount to HRK 2.5 billion, despite the fact that two years ago HRK 3.5 billion was spent on a bail out of the system.

He recalled that when supplementary health insurance was introduced, which today 1.5 million citizens pay, there were several categories and citizens paid HRK 130, HRK 80 or HRK 50, depending on an assets test, which was later adjusted to a single policy amounting HRK 70.

In addition to a more expensive policy, Nakic announced that the maximum amount of participation in medical fees would be increased from HRK 2,000 to HRK 3,000 for those citizens who do not pay supplementary health insurance.

He announced reforms in emergency services considering that 60% of patients arriving at emergency rooms are not emergency cases. Patients who come to emergency rooms of their own accord without a referral note or who have not gone to their family doctor first and are then assessed as not being an emergency case will have to participate in a fee if they still wish to be treated in the emergency room, he said.

Another measure will be to improve emergency teams in 20 cities, where citizens are moving away and do not have quality health protection.

Associations of pensioners and patients strongly objected to the increase in the price of supplementary health insurance, saying it was a new attack on citizens, notably pensioners.

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