Hospitals receive more money for the treatment of privately insured persons than those with general insurance.
“Only fools don’t change their minds.” That’s what the writer Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) is said to have said. Because I don’t want to be a fool, my change of mind is made public here.
It is about the “private” and “semi-private” supplementary hospital insurance. I have repeatedly described it as a luxury or a discontinued model, especially as far as the semi-private variant is concerned. Because their advantages over privately insured patients are on the wane.
Advantage number one: two-bed rooms instead of shared rooms. This advantage is disappearing because new buildings in particular only have two-bed and single-bed rooms.
Advantage number two: free choice of doctor. This advantage is disappearing because more and more procedures are being performed on an outpatient basis instead of inpatient. Without an overnight stay, the supplementary hospital insurance is useless.
But supplementary hospital insurance has a third advantage. It is new and by no means official: you could call it prioritization – preferential treatment when it comes to an operation date.
We’re not as far along in Switzerland as we are in the UK. Seven million people are said to be waiting there for routine surgery. We are a long way from such conditions in Switzerland.
There are no official waiting lists in Switzerland yet. But the hospitals are reaching their capacity limits, imposing admission freezes on the emergency rooms, so that patients have to be taken to other hospitals with free capacities. Surgery already has to be postponed. Not because of Corona, but because of the shortage of skilled workers.
The problem will only get worse. The reason lies in the demographic development. It leads to bottlenecks in healthcare on both the supply and the demand side. From the supply side, because the big baby boomers are retiring; from the demand side, because these baby boomers are asking for more services due to their age.
What happens when demand exceeds supply? In a free market, prices rise. But the healthcare market is heavily regulated and, in the opinion of many, over-regulated. The prices remain constant.
This is how we come to supplementary hospital insurance. The fact is that doctors and hospitals receive more money for the treatment of privately insured people than they do for people with general insurance, possibly for exactly the same service. It is also a fact that, despite regulated prices, hospitals have to make a profit in order to be able to make their investments. So say the law.
What could be more obvious than to prefer those operations for which hospitals and doctors get more money? Social politicians can lament for a long time, we don’t want two-tier medicine. We already have them.