Health minister rejects hospitals’ plea for Covid compensation

Hospitals were told to cancel elective procedures at the height of the pandemic. Keystone / Anthony Anex

Hospitals will not be compensated for lost earnings after being told to halt routine procedures during the coronavirus pandemic. Swiss health minister Alain Berset said extra costs could be made up by the state, but not missed revenues.

This content was published on August 31, 2020 - 18:47

An organisation representing public and private clinics, H+ Swiss Hospitals, is complaining of a CHF2.6 billion ($2.9 billion) hole in income following a five-week freeze on elective procedures at the height of the pandemic. The government had called a halt to non-essential healthcare using emergency powers.

Hospital officials met with Berset on Tuesday but failed to get a commitment for compensation. Berset said hospitals still had time to make up for the losses by the end of the year.

However, the minister said he was open to further discussions with hospitals and cantons about meeting the bill for extra costs incurred by Covid-19.

Berset’s comments came on the same day that the Schaffhausen parliament voted to demand compensation for lost earnings in the canton. Hospitals and clinics in the canton estimate the cost of the elective treatment freeze will run to a double-digit million amount.

General practitioners have also seen a financial shortfall as a result of the pandemic. Two-thirds of doctors’ surgeries in Switzerland expect to end the year with financial losses, according to a survey in July. 

More than a third of surgeries had to put staff on short-time work while a small minority had to lay off some workers.

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