Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

DRAFT BILL TO LAY THE GROUNDS OF NEW FINANCIAL PYRAMIDS

Six years after the collapse of the Ponzi schemes in Varna some new financial pyramids are about to appear. This time, however, they are specialized in health insurance. Their construction will be favoured by the Bill on Amending and Supplementing the Health Insurance Act. The draft has been moved in by Atanas Shterev, MP from the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) and Chairman of the Parliamentary Health Commission. Under the projected amendments, the minimum capital, required by the law in order for private health insurance funds to be licensed, will be reduced from BGN2MN to BGN500,000. The funds will also be required to accumulate BGN4MN in the first four years following their establishment. At the same time, they will only be allowed to control up to 33% of the capital of private hospitals, medical centres, laboratories, and sanatoriums.The two private health insurance funds that have been licensed in Bulgaria so far - Doverie and Zakrila - opposed the proposal of Mr. Shterev. According to Boiko Penkov, Executive Director of Zakrila, if the amendments are passed, companies of unstable financial condition and frivolous intentions will appear on the insurance market. They would discredit the idea for additional health insurance, because they will be unable to stick to the agreements they sign with their customers. A quick inspection of the BANKER weekly's reporters found out that the group of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) would boycott Mr. Shterev's proposal on the very first session of the Health Commission on September 11. Members of the group already consolidated their opinion with independent MPs and members of the left wing who oppose the low capital requirement. They promised to quit the discussions the following week and even leave the plenary hall.Advisers of parliamentary groups even foresaw that this voting was about to provoke one of the biggest scandals in the new parliamentary season.The reduction of the lowest capital required will allow the establishment of dozens of health insurance funds which in a year or two will prove to be the new financial pyramids, commented Dimitar Ignatov, UDF member, for the BANKER weekly. He added that the Minister of Health Care Bozhidar Finkov was also a participant in the scheme of these pyramids. Being the Minister of Health Care, he will include a package of just a few services in the Hospital Aid unit of the 2003 National Framework Agreement. This will force people to insure themselves additionally in a private fund. The right companies will offer more favourable conditions and better treatment, but only on paper, in order to attract more customers. In practice, people insured by them will be cured in the same hospitals and with the same equipment like those who count on the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) only, explained Dr. Ignatov. Dr. Antonia Parvanova from the NMSII held the opposite view. She claimed that the reduction of the capital required for licensing will destroy the monopoly of the currently biggest health insurance funds, Doverie and Zakrila. Thus we'll enable the numerous medical centres that arrange subscription to treatment and prophylaxis to grow like real funds, because at present their business is on the verge between insurance and medical service, explained Dr. Parvanova. She did not deny that some of the centres may become financial pyramids indeed. That's why on a meeting of the parliamentary group on September 10 she is going to insist that her colleagues ask for the opinion of the Ministry of Finance about the risks that such amendments would provoke and the methods for their evasion.

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