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Czech Health Minister wants to introduce patient fees from 2008

Czech Health Minister Tomas Julinek wants patients to pay fees for drugs, doctor appointments and hospital stays beginning next year to limit abuse and waste in the health-care system.

Julinek also revealed a plan to transform health insurers into joint-stock companies to spur competition and to create an independent panel to oversee the insurers, he said at a press conference in Prague yesterday. Patients will also be guaranteed certain standards and rights, the minister said. The $9 billion state health-care industry, which lacks a system of control and private funds, has been generating losses, repeatedly requiring ad hoc injections from the state budget. A plan to reverse that trend by the government, which won parliamentary approval only a month ago, may be foiled by its fragile majority in parliament. „Our goals is to react to general problems in the health care and to make amends to certain non-activity in the past eight years,” said Julinek. „Steps of a standard, routine nature must necessarily go hand-in-hand with reform measures.” The government aims to impose a 50 koruna ($2.30) fee for visiting specialists, the same fee for every day spent in a hospital and a 20 koruna prescription fee, Julinek said. A new law on emergency health aid that will ensure every citizen is helped within 15 minutes of notice will be also drafted, according to the minister. (Bloomberg)