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Slovakia to Eliminate Private Health Insurers, Premier Fico Says

July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Slovakia will reinstate a single public health insurer system as it seeks to stop the inflow of funds to private providers, Prime Minister Robert Fico said.

The Cabinet asked the Health Ministry to prepare by September a plan on how to either buy the two private Slovak insurers in the country from their owners or nationalize them, Fico said. The government plans to complete the process next year and the purchase costs will be covered by the sale of other state assets, Fico told journalists in Bratislava today.

Fico, an advocate of increasing state influence in the economy, has accused private health insurers of profiting from public funds, which instead should be spent fully on treatment. The government says a unified system will channel more funds for health-care providers at a time when the country is striving to reduce the budget deficit.

Dovera, controlled by Czech-Slovak private equity group Penta, has 1.4 million clients, while Union, a unit of Achmea BV, has 400,000. Two-thirds of the 5.4 million Slovak population is insured at the state-run General Health Insurance Company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Radoslav Tomek in Bratislava at rtomek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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