On Tuesday, July 13, the lower house of the Czech parliament approved legislation requiring foreigners with long-term residence in the country to be insured with the state-owned insurer VZP, despite criticism that such a requirement amounts to unacceptable monopolization.
One of the key changes will require all foreigners with commercial insurance to use Pojišťovna VZP for the first five years, according to reports in various Czech media outlets.
Only after this time would they be able to switch to other insurance companies.
The Senate version finally received 71 votes from the 158 present, opposed by legislators from SPD, the Communist Party, and many from ANO. The Lower House proposal received 108 votes out of 160 present, and was duly passed.
“Hospitals that provide assistance to foreigners with policies from non-medical insurance companies today cannot be sure that they will receive the money spent on treatment back,” said Miloslav Yanulik, a deputy from the ANO party.
The first time MPs approved the amendment in early June, but a month later the Senate rejected the document, believing that it would lead to a monopolization of the market. Senators returned the bill for reconsideration to the lower house, proposing their own solution to the problem – to create a register of medical insurance policies for foreigners, from which any medical institution will immediately see whether a patient is insured or not.
The Foreigners Act was proposed to harmonise regulations on the status of foreigners in the Czech Republic with EU law, and aims to create a legal distinction between close family members (ie. spouses, children, and parents) and other dependents, such as unmarried partners.
Rules for both groups should be streamlined; under the law, only the former group will have an automatic path to temporary and permanent residency, while the latter group will be allowed to stay in the Czech Republic for a longer period and will not have to justify the purpose of their stay.
Any foreigners already in the Czech Republic will retain their current status and should be unaffected by these changes.