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The appetites of the procurement and supply mafia are not small: Members of the medical community bypassed the system of supply for medical material in Slovenia and got what they needed from Germany at a lower price!

Despite the fact that our healthcare system is very expensive, it unfortunately still does not meet the needs of the patients, which understandably results in general dissatisfaction among the citizens. The much-needed money is flowing through the channels of the supply and procurement mafia, instead of being used to improve the healthcare situation in our country. The members of the medical community have experienced first-hand how the system works in practice, and they have decided to fight this by bypassing the Slovenian system of supply for medical material. They will therefore be supplying the same material from Germany, as it is much cheaper there than it is in Slovenia.

The website of the civil society movement (the word “zdravstvo” translates to healthcare), shows that its members and supporters are committed to achieving the goal of taking care of the patients’ health and finding a fair and effective path to it. Krištof Zevnik, the founder of the medical community Medikont for direct ordering from the manufacturer, reveals the story of the overpaid medical material in Slovenian healthcare. “With the help of formal and informal connections between companies, functions in the state apparatus and the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia, and the executive authorities, a system has been established, which results in inaccessible health services and an agreed-upon economy with overpaid material and medicines. Here is the story of how a small medical community bypassed the entire system of supply for medical material in Slovenia, and now supplies the same material from Germany, at a much lower price,” he emphasizes in the introduction.

Zevnik goes on to critically point out that the political majority has advocated that there be no change in health care, for the last couple of decades. In the current form of the system, the patient has access to health care, and is granted payment for a specific doctor, who is selected by the politics and then confirmed by the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (Zavod za zdravstveno varstvo Slovenije – hereinafter referred to as the ZZZS). “Failure to comply with the universal access to healthcare rights from Article 13 of the Health Care and Health Insurance Act and Article 51 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, and exclusive payment for health services to the state-designated healthcare providers, gives Slovenian suppliers a key legal basis to resell the products to specific healthcare institutions.” And they use a variety of tricks in taking advantage of the Public Procurement Act. They are also able to do this because of the way of operating of state institutions, which obviously do not perform effective supervision. Zevnik cites ZZZS as a key lever for the suppliers.

Given that the results of the analyses have revealed the links and agreements that are being made between the suppliers, doctors, and institutions, whose mission is to control the flow of money intended for treatment, it is not surprising that there are more and more doctors who are pointing out that a health care system like that does not work for the benefit of the patients. Among the doctors who have been the loudest in highlighting this problem, are undoubtedly dr. Blaž Mravlje and dr. Marko Noč, who revealed the systemic corruption on the example of the supply of vascular stents. Not only did the prices vary from hospital to hospital, they were also much higher than in the European free market. And we have still not seen even a trace of an epilogue in the matter.

The suppliers in Slovenia have created a complex network of connections
Zevnik, who is otherwise considered to be an advocate of public healthcare, where every patient would have the right to choose a doctor freely, where public health institutions would compete with private ones in the market of healthcare services, and the patient would have the right to quality and timely treatment, emphasizes that Slovenian suppliers have created a complex network of links, through which they are managing the sale of medicines and other medical materials, in a coordinated manner. According to him, Sanolabor and other related companies are the key suppliers in our healthcare. “As a representative of the employers, Sanolabor is a long-time member of the ZZZS assembly. The ZZZS Assembly (which also includes the representatives of Kemofarmacija, Tosama, Zaloker & Zaloker, and other important suppliers of medical materials and medicines) monitors the rights, the exercising of rights, and the use of jointly collected money for the treatment of patients, on behalf of all citizens. The Assembly’s task is also to make proposals for improving and increasing access to healthcare for the citizens,” he emphasizes.

Due to non-cooperation, they were forced to look for instruments elsewhere
Up until last year, the medical community Medikont, which is founded by Zevnik, bought the medical instruments in one of the neighbouring countries. But then one day, they received a call from Miba Vita, asking them to take part in the “big story”. “It turned out that Miba Vita wanted to supply us with the instruments that we had been buying directly from the manufacturer. When we rejected the offer to cooperate, it turned out that the manufacturer from the neighbouring country no longer wanted to sell us the instruments,” he said, explaining that the company is related to Sanolabor, which is the authorized distributor of Miba Vita.

After refusing to participate in the “big story”, the community was forced to find the instruments manufactured by the same manufacturer, somewhere in the European free market for medical devices, because of new circumstances. They managed to find a supplier from Germany, who, after negotiations, offered them a price that is 48 percent lower than that of the supplier in Slovenia. “Through the authorized distributor Sanolabor, the prices of the Slovenian supplier Miba Vita are, on average, as much as 15 percent higher than the prices paid by the German doctors for the same products! In the negotiations, the German supplier understood that Slovenia had less purchasing power, compared to Germany. The fact that the average Slovenian citizen earns about half as much as the average German citizen, means that the real price of a medical device should be half the current price of the Slovenian supplier!”

This story undoubtedly proves that it is possible to find and negotiate much better prices on the free European market, as the suppliers can clearly understand that Slovenia’s purchasing power is lower than that of any other major European country, so they adjust the price accordingly. “With this, we are holding up a mirror for the members of the ZZZS Assembly, especially the suppliers in the ZZZS Assembly, who take care of the transparent and efficient use of money for the benefit of all citizens. In addition to their noble tasks in the ZZZS Assembly, hundreds of millions of publicly collected money for healthcare have been flowing to where it is not supposed to be, for decades,” Zevnik is critical, noting that because of the insistence on the outdated model of static public healthcare or state healthcare, monopolies, and the agreed-upon economy, people are forced to wait for healthcare, and because of this, a lot of lives are lost.

Nina Žoher

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