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Hospitals in acute financial need: report

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to pay off their debts to health insurers, according to an analysis by accounts firm PwC on Tuesday.

On the basis of the annual reports of 70 of the 83 hospitals in the Netherlands, PwC says liquidity has not risen sufficiently to cover the growing debt.

Currently, hospitals are in debt to health insurers to the tune of €2bn and are also coping with productivity bonuses and a new declaration system, PwC's Arjen Hakbijl told website nu.nl.

The debt is caused by health insurers reclaiming over-payment from the past and becoming reluctant to finance working capital.

Because of this, liquidity is decreasing and PwC thinks many hospitals will need extra money this year equal to three months' turnover.


The number of loss-making hospitals rose to five in 2011 from four the year earlier, says PwC. Pointing out that three hospitals have not yet submitted their annual report, the company says the average loss in 2011 was €3.6m, the same as in 2010.

Turning these debts into bank loans has become harder, says Hakbijl. 'Banks take a much more critical look at the potential of hospitals and make higher demands. They are only partly filling the role of health insurers in financing working capital,' he told nu.nl.

PwC's conclusion that 'there is little sign of a sustainable financial situation' in hospitals chimes with the findings of sector peer Deloitte, which said last week that hospitals urgently need to strengthen their working capital.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

whew man, privatizing health care sure was brilliant huh? Hoogervorst from the VVD privatized it years back; the VVD being the same party as Rutte's, and the party that the Dutch voted as most popular in last election. what a huge mess.

By Bill | 12 June 2012 6:20 PM

According to prevailing capitalist principles, health insurers, by nature are predominately predatory.

A democratic health system would allocate resources according to local circumstances and needs.

By Lewis | 12 June 2012 7:30 PM

Health insurance companies are leeches. The NL should have a nationalized pot that everyone pays into and cut out the blood sucking middleman insurance companies. Hospitals should should also clean house and get their spending under control. Promote healthy living and eating! This could cure a thousand ills.

By Al | 12 June 2012 7:42 PM

Money problems in a socialized healthcare system? I am shocked.

By Expected | 13 June 2012 4:04 AM

Expected: socialized health care system?? where? what are you talking about? the system here in NL has been privatized many years ago. these are the major problems we are now seeing from privatizing the system. when health care was socialized here, we did not have these BIG problems.

By Bill | 13 June 2012 3:39 PM

I think many people who actually comment on health care issues don't understand how the Dutch system work. The insurers are quite efficient cost-containers because the services they have to provide are nationally determined, and they can't deny either coverage or treatments according to medical national consensus.

By Andre L. | 13 June 2012 8:27 PM

It would not surprise me if the result was the privatisation of many hospitals. Some months ago the government stated that it would allow more privatisation. So: let finances and provisions deteriorate and patients and staff might beg to be saved by big business. Then the degraded hospitals can be sold off quite cheaply.

By Husserl | 14 June 2012 7:50 AM

Except, Expected, it is no longer socialized and that is where the problem lies.

By Stupid | 14 June 2012 11:13 AM

@Expected, NO, money problems in a privatised healthcare system. When it was a socialised system, it worked quite well.

By Michael P | 14 June 2012 2:16 PM

Andre: funny thing is we all read every where in every Dutch and English language news, that the Dutch health care system is in serious trouble since it has been privatized. You seem to have the strong desire to defend these things that to me and many many other people, simply do not make sense. I must say I do not understand the logic and rationale in your comments much of the time.
There are many ways to refuse people coverage of course. One way is to make health care so expensive that many low income families just cannot pay for it. This is clearly the direction that health care is headed here. This is well documented also.

By Bill | 14 June 2012 5:06 PM

Still, people keep repeating slogans that just don't apply to the Dutch scenario. Many Dutch hospitals had been semi-private (like housing corporations) for DECADES. The only difference is that until the late 1990s those with less income had direct assistance to get treatment instead of a zorgtoeslag to pay for zorgverzeking. The employers paid for higher-income persons.

If anything, the Dutch system moved AWAY from the American model with universal parameters of basic care.

Only a minority of hospitals are for-profit here. The overwhelming majority are, as I said, semi-private entities without profit-seeking obligations.

Turning doctors into State employees would do nothing to solve the health care costs problems. The State would have to raise taxes to foot the costs.

By Andre L. | 14 June 2012 5:56 PM

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