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The process of expected drop in payments for state insurers

Updated: Apr 10

Not much is happening legislatively during the Chamber summer recess. However, an exception is the reduction in payments for state insurers announced by the government coalition. There have been repeated increases in these payments, first under the banner of improving the salary situation in the health sector, and then because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated extra costs to the health insurance system. However, the economic agenda this year is the war in Ukraine and its consequences in the form of the energy crisis and unprecedentedly high inflation. It is logical, therefore, that the Finance Minister is looking where he can in an attempt to patch up at least part of our bleeding state budget. In this regard, it makes sense that he would cut back some of what he has sucked out of the health insurance system from the state budget in previous years, when it was a priority for the government. Where will you find the spare 14 billion? What does not seem very logical to me anymore is the fact that health insurance companies have more or less voluntarily allowed themselves to be installed in the role of defenders of this proposal.

From a legislative point of view, everything was going according to the government's plans until this week, when the relevant amendment to the law on public health insurance was vetoed by the President. Politically, the cards have been dealt quite clearly. The coalition has 108 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, while 101 votes are enough to override the President. It is also a paradox that the biggest fighter for the current level of payments is the former finance minister, who as head of the state treasury previously proposed to abolish them altogether.

More interesting are the substantive arguments of both sides, because this time it is really disputable who is more right. The reduction in question does not represent a dramatic drop. It is a return to the previous level. The economic prediction of health insurance proved too pessimistic and the reality is more favourable. However, it is true that health insurers have not been sitting on the declared higher tens of billions of reserves for a long time and that, for example, investments in health infrastructure, including hospital campuses, have been insufficient for a long time. In other words, if the CZK 14 billion were to fall again mostly on further salary increases in the health sector, the government's approach is reasonable, but it would also have to consider whether they should not remain, e.g. in a form of investments, in the health sector, which has kept our society afloat for the last few years.

Author: Jakub Král


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