Laws regulating private healthcare providers limiting sector growth?



Split, 0505417.
Reportaza sa odjela za neonatologiju Klinike za zenske bolesti i porode KBC-a Split. Na fotografiji: sestra Helena
Foto: Tom Dubravec / CROPIX
Tom Dubravec / HANZA MEDIA

Illustration: Women's Clinic in Clinical Hospital Centre Split

Private healthcare in Croatia is growing year on year, but the laws that discriminate private healthcare institutions from other players on the market present an obstacle to even greater expansion.

A round-table discussion scheduled for today (Monday) at the premises of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) is to deal with "The legal position of private healthcare, its development potential and its role in stimulating economic growth in Croatia".

Three-billion revenue

The HUP estimates that this year, the total revenue of private healthcare operators in Croatia will exceed HRK 3 billion. Last year it amounted to slightly less than 2.7 billion; in 2016 it was 2.5 billion. Compared to 2013, which was still a crisis year, the growth of revenue is significant. Back then, the private healthcare institutions made only HRK 1.8 billion, according to HUP and Bisnode data. Most of the revenue is generated by hospitals, polyclinics and spas, but a considerable part of the cake is made by dentists and other private healthcare operators.

Investment in private healthcare has also seen a big jump. Last year, the total investment in the sector exceeded HRK 330.8 million, most of it in the hospital segment. As recently as 2013, the investment in the same sector amounted to just over 100 million. The HUP data shows that in 2017 there were 1.239 private health care facilities in the country. Most were hospitals, polyclinics and spas — 587, followed by dentists — 331, and general practitioners — 48, and 273 others.

While it all sounds positive, the HUP nevertheless warns that the position of private healthcare business in Croatia is more difficult than that of other sectors. In taxation, private healthcare institutions are treated as all other business, and are subject to profit tax. Unlike others, however — as the HUP warns — they cannot freely dispose of their own profits and invest, according to their own judgment, in other business opportunities, such as health tourism. They are restricted in their investment solely and entirety to the core business. The HUP also points out that, due to the unequal market position, private healthcare businesses find it impossible to use EU funding.

Roundtable discussion

The HUP hopes that the roundtable will answer at least some of the questions on the issues troubling the private healthcare. After all, two cabinet ministers are scheduled to take part — Milan Kujundžić (Health) and Gari Cappelli (Tourism). Also taking part will be Jadranka Primorac, President of the HUP's Association of Private Polyclinics, Hospitals, Spas and Healthcare Institutions, as will members of the Management Board of the Sv. Katarina Special Hospital, the owner of Svjetlost Special Hospital Nikica Gabrić, and Director of Rident Polyclinic Željko Miljanić. HUP will be represented by President Gordana Deranja and Director Davor Majetić.