Press Review

"Health insurance companies buy healthy clients," reads a headline on the editorial page of today's LIDOVE NOVINY. The paper writes that young, healthy and rich people seem to have received the most attention from Czech health insurance companies looking for new clients. Allegedly, the companies pay up to 500 crowns to representatives for obtaining a new client, but the main condition is that the client must be well off and, above all, healthy. In other words, there's no interest shown in retired people or those suffering from a chronic disease. The bonuses paid to the companies' representatives differ according to who the new client is. But this concerns mainly smaller health insurance companies, writes the paper. The largest one in the Czech Republic, the General Health Insurance Company, or VZP, has to accept all people who show an interest, otherwise it would be breaking the law. The result is that young people leave, while those who need costly care remain with VZP. This, on the other hand, is detrimental to hospitals, because the company cannot afford to increase the salaries of hospital doctors, writes LIDOVE NOVINY.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that Czech children seem to be overdosed with antibiotics. Every year they swallow far more antibiotic pills than they need to. Even doctors admit this fact. It often happens that a child with only a slight fever gets a prescription for antibiotics, which cannot actually kill off the virus. Although no precise figures are available, last year alone Czech citizens, including children, took more than 2 and a half billion Czech crowns worth of antibiotics. Antibiotics top the pill charts in the Czech Republic, followed by medications that reduce cholesterol and female hormones, while experts warn that if antibiotics are used too often, they become ineffective, and can even be harmful if used for a longer period of time. But the situation is improving, one pediatrician told the paper. Parents are becoming more aware of all the risks and they ask for standard medication more frequently nowadays, reports MLADA FRONTA DNES.

According to PRAVO, the Czech-Moravian Trade Union Confederation is demanding higher wages for public sector employees in order to compensate for energy and gas price increases expected next year. The confederation's deputy chairman, Milan Stech, told the paper that if wages are not increased, his organization will head all protests that might occur as a result. Mr. Stech said that increased energy and gas prices are understandable, due to the strong dollar, the currency used to buy these commodities, but that the impact on poorer households shouldn't be too harsh, reports PRAVO.

And finally, CESKE SLOVO says on its front page that deadly bone meal, which is directly linked to BSE, or mad cow disease, is available on the Czech market and every farmer can buy it. Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl, however, claims that the opposite is true and that the meal has not been on sale here for more than ten years now. But an employee at one of Prague's abattoirs confirmed to the paper that they do sell bone meal, but always with the warning that it should not be used as fodder for cattle.