Drucker Proposes Fines Up to €10,000 for GPs Charging Non-permitted Fees

Drucker heralds fines for GPs collecting non-permitted fees (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 4 (TASR) – Fines of up to €10,000 might be levied on outpatient departments for charging non-permitted fees, as Health Minister Tomas Drucker (a Smer-SD nominee) claims he does not intend to tolerate collecting fees for services that are fully covered by the public health insurance scheme, TASR learnt on Thursday.

Sanctions will, for example, apply to arranging specific times for patients within surgery hours for a fee. This stems from an amendment to the law on health care submitted by the Health Ministry for an interdepartmental review after a long time of its heralding. The amendment has yet to be approved by the Government and Parliament.

Outpatient departments are currently banned by the law to charge fees for arranging specific times for patients. However, patient organisations have been pointing out for a long time that this is still happening. Therefore, Drucker toughened the fine for this. External companies that were often arranging specific times for patients under the “patient management” label will be sanctioned, too. Drucker said he will be looking out for it.

Fines will be levied by respective self-governing regions. They will be levied on anybody who conditions arranging specific times for a patients’ examination on paying a fee despite this examination being fully covered by the public health insurance scheme.

Drucker also sets the minimum extent of surgery hours for GPs in the amendment. These should last at least 30 hours a week and at least twice a week until 2 p.m. A fine of up to €2,000 can be levied on outpatient departments providing these hours to a smaller extent. If they violate it repeatedly, the fine can climb to a much higher sum.

The self-governing regions will be in charge of approving and confirming the surgery hours of outpatient departments and levying fines on them. A decision on levying a fine should also contain the duty to refund unjustified payments as well as the deadlines for their refunding.