STA, 27 November 2019 - The parliamentary Health Committee has surprisingly endorsed legislation that would effectively end the current system of compulsory and supplementary health insurance as of 2021 in favour of a fully-fledged single-payer system.
The committee was discussing Wednesday amendments to the health insurance act tabled by the opposition Left that would fold the supplementary insurance contribution, which is paid as a lump sum regardless of income, into higher employer and employee payments.
It was widely expected the amendments would simply be voted down since the government said the bill was not appropriate. Its reluctance to back it was also the main reason why the Left terminated its cooperation agreement with the minority government.
Instead, the original proposal was transformed with coalition amendments into a bill that folds the lump sum, roughly EUR 29 per month, into the existing compulsory payments.
This means that supplementary health insurance contributions of individuals would increase by the same amount regardless of income, in what the government says is "the first step" of a more comprehensive solution.
Even the Left in the end backed the government solution, with party leader Luka Mesec arguing that this would "keep the bill open" and provide an avenue to find better solutions in the coming days and months.
Despite the surprise endorsement today, the legislation faces obstacles down the line.
For one, the parliament's own legal department voiced apprehension about the bill being changed so thoroughly with amendments. It also has qualms about how clear the provisions are.
Marjan Sušelj, the head of public health insurer ZZZS, which would manage all health insurance payments under the new system, said the solutions were not defined clearly enough.
He also noted that the government had recently agreed with social partners to steer all legislation through the Economic and Social Council prior to adoption.
And even if these issues are resolved, the three companies that provide supplementary health insurance, two private firms and a mutual insurer, have indicated they will put up a fight against legislation that would effectively kill their business.
These insurers currently collect roughly half a billion euro in health insurance premiums, money that would be handled by the ZZZS if the legislation is passed.