In its new analysis on reducing surplus capacity in the healthcare system, the Health Ministry claims that health insurance companies proposed "a list of 36 independent hospitals or large parts of teaching hospitals that are suitable for re-profiling." In other words, these facilities could become retirement homes, for example, and their operating costs would not have to be covered by the public healthcare budget.
The Health Ministry is cudgelling its brains for a way to rid the system of inefficient health care providers over which it has no control. The ministry could arrange cartel agreements between health insurers to shut these institutions out, but what really has to happen is that the government and the Health Ministry have to do what no one else can do for them. They have to reduce, and more precisely define, the minimum network of health care providers, thereby giving health care providers the room they need to reduce excess capacity. Second, they have to eliminate the protectionism of providers of general outpatient health services, which is provided by contracts with health insurers. Third, apart from a minimum care network they also have to define a minimum that must be in the hands of the state, or in other words launch privatization. Fourth - if this leftist government can muster the right-wing courage - they have to start charging for treatments, or in other words increase the financial participation of patients in their treatment, which creates room for commercial health insurance.
Finally, they have to stop playing with the idea of forcing state-covered insurance clients to register with state health insurers, or restricting the ownership rights of private health insurance companies. That path leads only to court cases and arbitration.
Sme, April 17
23. Apr 2007 at 0:00