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Slovak Cabinet Backs Plan to Reinstate One Health Insurer

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Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- The Slovak government approved a plan to reinstate a single public health-insurer system starting i 2014 as it seeks to stop the inflow of funds to private providers.

The Health Ministry will early next year pick an adviser to assess the value of the two private insurers operating in Slovakia, Premier Robert Fico said today. The government will expropriate the providers if it fails to reach an agreement on a voluntary purchase by the end of 2013, he said.

“We want a single insurer,” Fico told a news conference today after a Cabinet meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia. “We will negotiate until the end of next year. But if the agreement doesn’t come, we will use the powers which the state has.”

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 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 Slovakia’s 5.4 million citizens are insured by the state-run General Health Insurance Company.

The government will sell some other state assets to finance the costs of the purchase or the eventual expropriation, Fico said, without elaborating.

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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