Energy, insurance, equipment … Red alerts on hospital finances

They just missed it! Two years of Covid ran out of hospitals and their staff, despite billions of euros on the table during the “Ségur de la Santé”. And now, a financial storm is threatening hospital accounting. Its name: inflation. Households are not the only ones suffering from wallets these days. Both public and private hospitals.

Insomniac to Vincent Vessel, director of the San Comb Poly Clinic in Compiegne, one of Picardy’s largest buildings. Since the fall, letters from his suppliers detailing the menu of future tariff increases have been piled up on his desk. The last is about all purchases of operating drapes, whose prices are expected to rise by almost 7% in 2022. Another line that turns red: “Everything has become more expensive, energy, medical equipment, insurance … the situation has become very worrisome,” he said.

In public, the bill is just as salty. Bruno Carrière experiences this on a daily basis. He directs the largest purchasing center in a public hospital, spending nearly € 6 billion annually on behalf of nearly 1,000 facilities. He also matches the numbers: + 15% for dressings, + 5% for plastic injection tubes, + 15% for catering … but these are the most damaging energy items (electricity, gas. ..) and insurance.

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“Hospitals that want to play alone and contract directly with an energy supplier are subject to the review terms contained in contracts ranging from 100% to 200% in certain cases,” Bruno Carrière chokes. If energy items make up 7% to 10% of the hospital’s budget, it will be hit hard.

Insurance companies also have a great influence on insurance premiums. “They expect an explosive increase in proceedings, and some Covid patients accuse the hospital of getting sick when they seek treatment for another condition,” Bruno Carrière adds. And the company will take over a very strong increase in the absence of funded premiums. These contracts are used to cover the additional costs associated with staff shortages.

However, there are still concerns about the future. “All real estate and refurbishment investments launched within the framework of Ségur are subject to cost increases that fluctuate between 10% and 30%,” claims Cécile Chevance, Finance Officer of the French Hospital Federation. ..

Hospital inflation check

The problem is that, unlike regular companies, public hospitals such as private facilities cannot pass on these price increases to prices that are tightly regulated by the country. “I won’t loop anymore,” Cécile Chevance warns.

Indeed, the government claims to have eased hospital constraints during the last social security budget voted last November. This year, the National Health Insurance spending target (Ondam) has been raised to 2.4%. “Part of the increase is simply eaten up by inflation,” Cécile Chevance replies. In particular, hospital packages should theoretically increase by only 0.2% in March, as stated in a multi-year contract carved into stone with Agnes Busan in 2019 … prehistoric.

“We are looking for a 1% increase in hospital packages and an inflation allocation of around € 2 billion,” said Ramin Garbi, chairman of the Private Hospitalization Federation. Meanwhile, Olivier Véran’s cabinet did not listen and did not want to answer our questions.

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The hospital is discussing the savings plan again. Some university hospitals will still be in balance before the Covid pandemic and will be on the verge of embolism. And 30% of clinics are already in the red. “I was already thinking of closing the maternity ward or reducing sails in a particular department, and I can’t hire,” breathes fatalist Vincent Vessel. Inflation, the last twist of fate that didn’t see the hospital coming.

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