Hospital costs reach record levels



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Health insurance companies: Record expenditure at the clinics

Spending on statutory health insurance (GKV) for hospitals has risen again significantly. Health insurance funds transferred around 60 billion euros to the clinics in 2011.

Hospital spending reached a new record high. Never before has statutory health insurance companies had to spend as much money on hospital care as in 2011. According to the GKV umbrella association, clinic costs are becoming one of the main cost drivers in the healthcare system.

Highest cost increases at the hospitals "Even if the hospital representatives keep trying to give a different impression", "the clinics receive more money than ever from the statutory health insurers", emphasized the deputy chairman of the GKV umbrella association, Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg, opposite the news agency "AFP". For example, the hospitals had the highest rate of increase in the entire healthcare system in 2011 with a 4.2 percent increase in costs, said the vice-chief of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds. According to the association's calculations, the average cost increase in healthcare in the first three quarters of 2011 was only 2.5 percent.

Structural reforms required at the clinics In his statement, the deputy chairman of the GKV umbrella association calls for structural reforms of the hospitals in view of the increase in clinic costs. Actually, "one could expect the hospital representatives to show how they can use the additional money to improve patient care," emphasized Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg in his view of the need for reform. The initiative is aimed, for example, at enabling direct contracts between health insurers and hospitals. "If health insurance companies are allowed to advertise predictable services, they could focus on quality and cost-effectiveness in patient care," emphasized Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg.

More outpatient, less inpatient care for the population? At the beginning of the year, the CEO of the Barmer GEK, Christoph Straub, had clearly criticized the structure of the hospital landscape in Germany and described it as one of the reasons for the high costs in the health system. "We afford structures that are larger and more expensive than in other countries," said Straub at the time. The Barmer GEK chief spoke in favor of implementing the austerity measures envisaged by the federal government in the area of ​​the clinic, even if this would mean the closure of numerous hospitals. The increased "economic pressure" offers a good opportunity "to change the outdated structures" and to transform the traditional coexistence of hospitals and medical practices, explained Straub. The Barmer GEK boss believes that medical care for the population should be provided much more on an outpatient basis or during only short hospital stays. (fp)

Also read:
Depressing clinics make healing difficult
New doctor portal against unnecessary operations
Mental illnesses cause high costs
Health insurance companies warn of new additional costs
Do doctors' fees lead to higher health insurance contributions?
Dispute over billions in surplus in the health fund

Image: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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