Debt in health sector rises to €550 million

State-run hospitals tackle problems with late payments for medicaments and medical materials, but also costs for their employees.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

The debt in the health sector grew by nearly €120 million year-on-year to €549.87 million in the end of last year. The biggest debtors were state-run hospitals, which the Health Ministry explains with the fact that they carry out the most very expensive treatments. Also other medical facilities had problems with paying invoices, according to the ministry’s report.

The debts of 13 teaching and university hospitals increased by €111 million to €442.41 million last year, which is by €40 million more than in the previous year. Only two hospitals did not accumulate debts: the teaching hospital in Nitra and the children’s teaching hospital in Košice.

The state-run facilities usually owe money for medicaments and special medical materials. They also do not pay payroll taxes for their employees on time.

“Among the main reasons for the continuing increase in debts can be the ongoing generating of operational losses in hospitals,” the Health Ministry wrote in the report, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Also the facilities run by the interior and defence ministries report financial problems, owing altogether €23.64 million. The facilities run by municipalities and self-governing regions, as well as those transformed into non-profitable organisations owe a total of €83.65 million.

“The ongoing accumulation of operational losses in hospitals negatively impacts public finances, while also on the mid-term horizon it poses serious risks to public finances,” the ministry report reads.

The increase in debts is also impacted by higher salaries of medical employees and the European directive which caps the due date at 60 days.

“The general problem is that the costs of hospitals are not sufficiently covered by yields from health insurers,” the ministry claimed, as quoted by TASR. “The hospitals also face the hidden debt in the form of inappropriate infrastructure as investments into this sector are under-financed.”

The ministry thus proposes to increase financing for the sector.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Tomáš Drucker (Smer nominee) said he would like to reduce the debts of hospitals, TASR wrote.

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