VZP ends cooperation with Proton Center

in Czech News

Largest Czech insurer will send people to Germany due to price difference

Prague, Nov 20 (ČTK) — The General Health Insurance Company (VZP) has ended cooperation with the private Prague Proton Therapy Center due to the latter’s sharp raising of prices, and it will be sending all cancer patients for proton radiation therapy to Munich, VZP head Zdeněk Kabátek has told the Czech News Agency.

The VZP (Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna) is the biggest Czech health insurer.

Of the 53 VZP clients who have received proton therapy so far, two-thirds underwent it in the Prague center.

In summer the center raised the prices of treatment that are now twice as high as those required by a similar center in Munich, Kabátek said.

The VZP signed no contract with the Prague proton center. They agreed on the coverage of each patient’s therapy separately in the past months.

Kabátek said the VZP would like to sign a regular contract with the Prague center that would meet the parameters approved by the VZP board, but the proton center seems to be waiting for parameters that would be more favorable for it, which the VZP rules out, Kabátek said.

In this situation, VZP spokesman Oldřich Tichý said it is unimaginable for the VZP to continue to send its clients for proton therapy to the Prague center.

The media referred to the Prague Proton Therapy Center mainly in connection with the treatment that Ashya King, a four-year-old British boy suffering from a brain tumor, underwent in it in September and October.

A preliminary contract the then VZP’s forced administrator signed with the proton center in 2006 ensured an annual 1600 patients for the center and their treatment worth one billion Kč in the next 15 years.

This July, an arbitration declared the preliminary contract void. A court decision is yet to be issued.

In the meantime, the VZP board approved a draft new contract under which the VZP would cover the center’s services with 50 million Kč a year at the most.

In the past nine months, the VZP’s survey showed that a patient’s therapy in Munich cost about 550,000 Kč plus some 100,000 Kč spent for their stay abroad.

The Prague center, on its part, asked for 1.2 to 1.5 million Kč for treating each of its last three patients. It raised the price of one radiation treatment from 20,000 to 40,000 Kč. The VZP did not cover the invoice and asked the Prague center to explain the price calculation, Kabátek said.

The center said the prices of its services to VZP clients had increased because the VZP previously enjoyed a price relief, which was scrapped as the plan to sign a regular bilateral contract has fallen through.

Of the country’s health insurers, the only one to have signed a contract with the Prague center is the Military Health Insurance Company. Both sides keep the contractual conditions secret.

As from next July, the Prague proton center’s chance of signing contracts with other insurers is to open with the Health Ministry’s decision to put ten diagnoses requiring proton radiation therapy on the list of services covered from public health insurance.

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