Brussels, 16 February 2011
Insurance: Slovenia referred to EU Court over complementary health insurance
The European Commission has decided to refer Slovenia to the Court of Justice because its rules on complementary health insurance do not fully comply with EU non-life insurance Directives and EU rules on the free movement of capital and the freedom to provide services. The Commission considers that Slovenia's current rules may lead to distortions in the Single Market for insurance and less choice for Slovenian consumers. The Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Slovenia in September 2010, requesting the Slovene authorities to comply with EU law. However, the legislation in question has not been amended to make it comply with EU law.
What is the aim of the EU rules in question?
Since the 1970s, the EU has adopted several Directives that promote the economic efficiency and integration of the European insurance market. A common legal framework has been created to enable insurers to set up and operate throughout the EU and provide their services freely. Beyond ensuring greater competition and more choice in the insurance market, the legal framework is in place to ensure greater protection for consumers.
How is Slovenia not respecting these rules?
A number of provisions in the Slovenian Health Care and Health Insurance Act (Zakon o zdravstvenem varstvu in zdravstvenem zavarovanju or ZZVZZ) are not in line with some of the basic freedoms outlined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and EU's non-life insurance Directives. According to the Act, foreign health insurers are required to appoint a representative in Slovenia to deal with the Slovenian authorities. In the Commission's view this obligation infringes on the freedom to provide services because under EU rules (Article 56 of the TFEU), a health insurer is not required to establish itself in the Member State where it wants to offer its services.
Furthermore, despite Slovenia's claims to have an open and liberalised insurance market, health insurers are restricted from using their profits for distribution to their shareholders, which according to the Commission conflicts with EU rules on the free movement of capital (Article 63 of the TFEU).
Lastly, the Act requires that insurers notify the Slovenian supervisory authority of their insurance terms. In the event that the authority has doubts about the rise in premiums, for example, it can appoint an independent certified actuary to investigate the matter further. Based on the actuary's findings the authority can decide to pursue further actions against the health insurer. According to the Commission, the notification rule constitutes disproportionate state intervention that is at odds with both an open and liberalised insurance market and the EU's non-life insurance Directives.
How are citizens and businesses suffering as a result?
The rules outlined above restrict the ability of health insurers from other Member States to establish themselves and offer their services in Slovenia. This prevents other health insurers from competing on the Slovenian insurance market and limits the choice available to Slovenian consumers.
Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States:
For more information on infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/86