Health care debt deepened massively

The state university and teaching hospitals owe the most in unsettled invoices and levies.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

In 2017, the Health Ministry recorded a total debt of €1.46 billion, an increase of €81.34 million compared to the previous year. The most significant soar in liabilities was made by health care facilities operated by the Health Ministry, the SITA newswire wrote, adding that their overdue liabilities amounted to €679.24 million and liabilities before maturity totaled €154.45 million. This shows the report on debt development in health care for 2017, which was handled by the Cabinet on May 9.

Total overdue debt amounted to a record €791.13 million, up €143.89 million in annual terms.

Health care facilities had the biggest debt towards medicament and special medical materials’ suppliers (52.7-percent), followed by the Socialna Poistovna social insurer, tax offices and health insurers (30.1-percent). They also owe money for energy and services.

The health care debt increased by €143.89 million in a single year, the TASR newswire wrote.

Reasons and way out of debt

“The main reasons for the constant deepening of indebtedness seem to be the continuation of operation losses in hospitals,” the Health Ministry writes in its report, as quoted by TASR. “In these facilities, the biggest volume of financially-demanding operations in medical care is made. The situation is also complicated by high share and growth in personal costs as related to revenues from insurers, and the significant share of expenses on drugs and medical materials in overall costs of medical facilities.”

The revenues from health insurers further fail to cover the operation costs of the 13 biggest university and teaching hospitals, despite gradual reduction in other costs. However, hospitals falling under Interior and Defence Ministries face the problem with overdue fees (€26.19 million), as well as those transferred to local and regional administrations as non-profit organisations (€85.13 million). The lowest debts could be ascribed to hospitals transformed into joint-stock companies – €0.57 million.

The Health Ministry is well aware of the situation the medical facilities face due to their debts, ministry spokesperson Zuzana Eliášová told TASR. Another debt elimination worth hundreds of millions of euros should help them. The process has already started, and it involves 29 medical facilities so far.

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