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Bulgarian Hotels Spared from Spending on Tourist Healthcare

Source: Sofia News Agency (www.novinite.com)
Published Date: 30 Mar 2007

Bulgaria's Healthcare Ministry dropped on Thursday its controversial plan to force Bulgarian hotel operators to open healthcare facilities to service tourists from EU member countries.

Bulgaria joined the bloc in January and insured patients from other EU countries are to be treated using the price list of the country's National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which is significantly lower than the prices charged in Bulgaria's resorts.

Last week, the ministry proposed regulations that obliged hotel owners to chip in to keep doctors in their respective resorts happy, which was fiercely opposed by the hotels.

The ministry dropped its plan after a meeting with representatives of the tourism sector, who offered instead to impose a requirement on all doctors employed in hotels to have standing contracts with NHIF, essentially passing the responsibility onto the doctors.

Initial forecasts show that four million tourists, 80% of them from EU countries, will visit Bulgaria's Black Sea coast.

Healthcare officials insist there are enough doctors employed in the resorts to deal with this influx, but it remains to be seen how many of them will be disgruntled enough by the new regulations to pack up and leave.