New Bulgarian Health Minister Vows to Implement Reform

Health | October 9, 2010, Saturday // 12:27|  views

Bulgaria’s new Health Minister, Stefan Konstantinov, says he is against free market in medical care. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria will purchase foreign-manufactured software to use it in determining prices of hospital care, new Health Minister, Stefan Konstantinov, says.

Konstantinov spoke Saturday in an interview for Darik radio, explaining the new model to determine prices could be launched by 2012.

According to the Health Minister, such purchase from abroad is necessary because lobbying groups in Bulgaria tend to tweak prices in one direction or another while the software pricing would be more fair and independent of the amount financed.

Copay for medical care must be extended beyond hospitals, but it must be small and affordable by all patients, Konstantinov pointed, adding it would be introduced by January 1, 2011, hopefully without large-scale public opposition. He further voiced belief people would chose copay over receiving less medical services.

Under the new rules, the patients would no longer need a referral from their GP in order to consult with a specialist while copay will force them to seek doctors' help only when really needed.

Major hospitals will receive priority financing and adequate equipment and staffing with patients informed in advance which hospitals would be included in the priority list. The rest would not be closed, but copay there would still be required.

Konstantinov said he is against competition between the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) and the private health insurance funds, as written in the election program of the now ruling center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party.

"This is a basic issue. I do not see anything wrong with private funds, but in the current state of finances and the entire mess, we cannot force people to put money in private funds. Namely this fake competition in the health care sector – with too many hospitals, led us to this mess. Free market in medical care is not something I see as being good," Konstantinov said.

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Tags: health care, Stefan Konstantinov, Bulgarian Doctors Union, hospitals, reform, copay


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