Health

Hospital prices for 2024: private clinics and private doctors try for a common front

Two liberal doctors’ unions have decided to join private clinics in their revolt against hospital prices from 2024: they are suspending their own price negotiations with the health insurance company, although they are supposed to enter their homes.

Zdravotní pojišťovna took note of this decision and postponed Thursday’s negotiations with all six trade unions representing private doctors, general practitioners and specialists.

The director general of the National Health Insurance Fund (Cnam) Thomas Fatôme “regrets the delay in concluding the conventional negotiations”, she said.

Prices are rising slightly

These negotiations, eagerly awaited by experts, aim to increase the compensation of doctors, who in return must make a collective commitment in favor of access to care. They already failed last year and were renewed in the fall, while doctors welcomed the “new” method and the guarantees offered by the ministry.

However, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the majority organization among specialist doctors Avenir Spé-Le Bloc and the UFML-S trade union announced that they were suspending their participation in support of private clinics challenging the arbitration government on the development of hospital prices for 2024.

The government announced last week that hospital rates in the for-profit private sector would rise by just 0.3% in 2024, compared with 4.3% for public or private not-for-profit hospitals, angering their representatives.

The Federation of Private Hospitals (FHP) on Wednesday called on 1,030 private clinics and hospitals to go on a “total strike” from June 3, excluding services providing “vital care” (dialysis, chemotherapy, etc.). Avenir Spé-Le Bloc and UFML-S are now calling on their members to join.

A press conference by several medical unions is due to convene at the end of the morning, but the leading GP union MG France and the influential CSMF will not be attending.

“Declaration

“The government’s decision is a declaration All the unprofitable facilities will close,” and this “will almost immediately affect the self-employed professionals who work there and access to care,” Avenir Spé-Le Bloc representative Patrick Gasser explained to AFP.

“It is liberal medicine that is being threatened in its very existence, through the controlled destabilization of private hospitalization,” writes the UFML-S.

According to the FHP, the strike closures will not affect maternity hospitals and services that “provide vital care”. The establishments will exclude any activity that could “result in a loss of opportunity”. “Exact details are being prepared,” the federation said.

The government’s decisions worsen the “already critical” situation, FHP estimates, because the costs of hospitals and clinics are “growing exponentially”. The share of private hospitals in the deficit, “increased from 25 to 40% between 2021 and 2023, will reach an alarming level of more than 60% in 2024 under these conditions,” she assured.

The end of all that is needed?

Health Minister Frédéric Valletoux, former president of the FHF (Federation of Public Hospitals), “persists and signs” as an “enemy of liberal medicine”, on Wednesday condemned Dr. Franck Devulder, president of the CSMF, a trade union for general practitioners. and specialists.

However, he concluded that these tariffs and conventional negotiations were “two different subjects” and ruled out slamming the door at this stage. The government justifies the budgetary tightening of private facilities by restrictions burdening public finances.

“The 2024 price campaign is the first post-crisis” of Covid-19 and “marks the end of everything that is needed,” Marie Daudé, director general of care delivery at the Ministry of Health, said on Wednesday.

“The government has decided to value activities such as palliative care, transplants” and “full hospitalization medicine” more than others, which are more present in public hospitals than in the private sector, he said. According to her, maternity hospitals will benefit from the three percent price increase, whether they are state or private.

Price Transparency in Hospitals: Private Clinics and Doctors Join Forces?

In 2024, there seems to be a move towards a more unified approach to hospital pricing among private clinics and doctors. This comes after years of frustration and confusion for patients facing a maze of undisclosed costs.

The Opaque World of Private Healthcare Costs:

Traditionally, pricing for procedures and treatments in private hospitals has been opaque. Patients often have little idea what a surgery, consultation, or even a simple X-ray might cost until after the service is rendered. This lack of transparency makes budgeting for healthcare difficult and can lead to sticker shock for patients.

Why the Push for Change?

There are several factors driving the push for transparency in private healthcare pricing:

  • Patient Frustration: The rising cost of healthcare, coupled with the lack of clear pricing information, has led to growing patient frustration.
  • Technological Advancements: The rise of online tools and healthcare cost calculators empowers patients to shop around and compare prices.
  • Regulatory Pressure: There may be increasing pressure from governments or healthcare regulatory bodies to promote transparency in pricing.

A United Front for Price Clarity?

The news of private clinics and doctors potentially working together on a common pricing front is a positive development. Here’s what this collaboration could entail:

  • Standardized Pricing Structures: Developing a more standardized approach to pricing procedures and treatments could make it easier for patients to compare costs across different facilities.
  • Online Price Lists: Making clear and detailed price lists readily available online would empower patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare.
  • Treatment Packages: Offering bundled treatment packages that include all the expected costs could provide greater transparency and predictability for patients.

Challenges and Considerations:

While a unified pricing front sounds promising, there are challenges to consider:

  • Varied Levels of Care: Private hospitals and doctors offer varying levels of care and amenities, which can impact pricing.
  • Complexity of Procedures: The complexity of certain procedures can make it difficult to establish a fixed price beforehand.
  • Insurance Variations: The type of insurance a patient has can significantly impact their final costs.

The Road Ahead:

The potential collaboration between private clinics and doctors on hospital pricing is a step in the right direction. However, it’s important to ensure that any new system is clear, comprehensive, and takes into account the complexities of healthcare.

For patients, this move signifies a potential future where they can navigate private healthcare with more confidence and clarity regarding the financial implication

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