Clinics in need: Every third person is in the red


A third of the clinics in the red

The clinics across Germany are struggling with growing financial problems. Almost every third hospital wrote in red in 2011, reports the German Hospital Society (DKG), referring to a representative survey by the German Hospital Institute (DKI). The situation is further aggravated by the "poor payment behavior of the health insurers", according to the statement in the current press release of the DKG.

The DKI survey showed a significant increase in hospitals with financial difficulties. While 21 percent of hospitals were still in the red in 2010, this affected as many as 31 percent in 2011 - and the trend is rising. Overall, "the economic situation in German hospitals has deteriorated noticeably in the past two years," reports the German Hospital Society. Around 60 percent of the clinics saw a reduction in their business results compared to the previous year.

Bad economic situation at many clinics While the financial situation on the part of the health insurance companies has improved significantly in recent years and there are now billions of reserves, several clinics complain about increasing financial problems. In the DKI survey, only every fourth hospital assessed its economic situation as good. Only a few expect an improvement in the future. Only 22 percent said their situation would probably improve in 2013. 40 percent of the hospitals surveyed, on the other hand, assume that their economic situation will worsen. According to the DKG, “the billions in billions cut by the clinic at the expense of the clinics” are the main cause of the financial problems. In addition, there are "the continuing high increases in personnel, energy and material costs, which the clinics cannot cover due to the prices also capped by law," reports the German Hospital Society.

Criticism of the payment behavior of the health insurance companies In view of the financial difficulties of numerous clinics, the DKG demands that the federal government "instead of cutting the hospitals 750 million euros in total for this and the coming year" helps the clinics. Furthermore, the payment behavior of the health insurance companies was to be criticized. Two thirds of the clinics had to struggle with payment delays, which hit them even harder in their already precarious financial situation. According to the DKG, accounts receivable from payment delays and refusals to pay nationwide amount to 1.1 billion euros. This would "significantly affect the liquidity of the hospitals."

Accepting hospital closures Instead of granting more money to hospitals, some statutory health insurance companies have already taken the offensive in the past with the request for clinic closures. In 2011, for example, the chairman of the Barmer GEK pleaded to close numerous clinics under budget constraints in the future. The smaller clinics run by local authorities should not be exempt from the savings contribution from the health care reform decided in 2011, even if this resulted in the closure of numerous facilities. The increased "economic pressure" is also an opportunity to "change the outdated structures", which is one of the reasons for the excessive costs in the health care system. Here, the traditional coexistence of hospitals and medical practices had to be broken up and medical care for the population was given much more frequently on an outpatient basis or during only short hospital stays, according to the then demand of the CEO of the Barmer GEK. (fp)

Image: Harald Wanetschka / pixelio.de

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