Spa treatment becoming less affordable for Czechs
For many years getting spa treatment covered by the state was one of the benefits afforded by health sector and all one needed to do was ask one’s doctor, citing a real or imaginary problem that a month of pampering at one of the country’s famous spas would put right. Since the 1990s a gradual overhaul of the health sector has made it increasingly difficult to avail oneself of this luxury and a new directive introduced as of October 1st has drawn a sharp line between those who really need spa treatment and those who are just there for the pampering.
The number of spa treatments recommended by doctors –and thereby covered by health insurance companies – have halved since 2010. Now the introduction of a new directive will make spa treatment an even bigger luxury. According to the new rules the length of spa treatment paid for by insurance companies will be reduced from 4 to 3 weeks. Spa treatment will only be available once in two years and for some health problems that have been treated in spas in the past they will not be available at all. Many older Czechs are groaning, but deputy health minister Ferdinand Polák says this is not withholding proper care to those who need it.
The tighter net is expected to save more than half a billion crowns annually and it is not only patients who feel hard-done-by. The country’s large network of spas which offers a cure for numerous ailments will be hard hit and spas which have not branched out into wellness services may be in big trouble. The president of the Association of Czech Spas Eduard Bláha says the last two years have been increasingly difficult.
“We have all gradually been laying off staff and there are some spas that have had problems paying their employees’ wages.”