Croatia's public health fund (HZZO) plans to pay wholesale drug suppliers some half-a-billion kuna by the end of 2019 in a bid to pay off more than two-billion kuna in outstanding debt owed by public hospitals.
"We agreed on the payment of 500 million kuna by the end of the year. As for the remaining debt amount, it will be dealt with along the way," said Health Minister Milan Kujundžić.
Kujundžić underlined that the various counties were the formal owners of the indebted hospitals, and plans were in place to see how much local governments were able to participate in covering the debt.
Minister Kujundžić added that the government had even considered taking a loan to cover the entire debt for all the bills which had matured more than two months ago, which total 2.1 billion kuna.
As for the long-term solution to the health care system's skyrocketing debt accumulation for drugs, Kujundžić said that in the future everyone would have to pay more for healthcare, and suggested higher taxes on tobacco as a way to cover costs.
If the Croatian health care system wants to keep up with the quality and availability of health care in developed countries, the government will have to find more money to fund it, said the minister.
A representative of wholesale drug suppliers, Tomislav Klobučar, told reporters after the meeting on Monday that an agreement had been reached for the public health fund to pay 300 million kuna sometime this month, while another 200 million kuna would be paid by the end of the year.