Corona crisis: many hospitals go bankrupt?

Corona crisis: many hospitals go bankrupt?

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Professional societies criticize the current support

While intensive care and emergency doctors in Germany are working to the point of exhaustion, medical associations have determined that according to the current draft law, hospitals will remain on a large part of the additional financial burden due to the corona crisis.

The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine e. V. and the German Society for Cardiology - Cardiovascular Research e.V. criticize the current draft law to offset the financial burdens on hospitals. The professional societies fear that the corona crisis could drive many hospitals into bankruptcy.

The hospitals are preparing themselves

Hospitals are preparing feverishly for the coming wave of Covid 19 sufferers. To do this, entire floors are emptied, medications are purchased, some of which are five times more expensive than usual, and new intensive care beds with respirators are purchased. When looking at the draft law, the specialist societies now found that under current regulations they would remain at a large part of the costs.

Sharp criticism from DIVI

"The draft is definitely not acceptable in this way," emphasizes Professor Uwe Janssens, President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) in a statement on the draft law. Minister Spahn had broken his word to the clinics. Even the amendments to the draft law are only “a drop in the bucket,” says Janssens. The DIVI is therefore demanding serious changes!

A calculation example

According to Janssens, who is also chief physician at the Clinic for Internal Medicine and Internal Intensive Care Medicine at St. Antonius Hospital in Eschweiler, his clinic has to pay around 95,000 euros for each newly built intensive care bed. In addition, prices are rising steadily due to high demand. "The minister initially wanted to reimburse 30,000 euros for these beds, and in the amendment of the bill, he is now offering 50,000 euros for each new intensive care unit with ventilation," explains Janssens. The clinics stay at least 45,000 euros per bed.

It is not about enrichment

"To make one thing clear: none of us in the clinic want to enrich ourselves in the current situation," emphasizes Janssens. "We are doctors - we want to help!" But no employee in the hospital should fear that the pandemic could lead to bankruptcy. The current situation is driving the hospitals into financial ruin.

DIVI demands fast and unbureaucratic support

Janssens and his colleagues expect the government to compensate for all costs - including overtime, intensive care beds, respirators, protective equipment and medication. "The hospitals cannot now be left alone," says Janssens. Otherwise there would be a massive loss of confidence in politics.

Here are the problems with the current DIVI bill:

  • Price increases for protective equipment are not taken into account (prices before and during the crisis: surgical mask 3 cents vs. 50 cents to 1 euro; FFP2 respirator mask, depending on the version, 11 to 60 cents vs. 7 to 10 euros).
  • Additional consumption of protective clothing was not included.
  • Overtime was not taken into account.
  • Problems caused by the relocation of patients in old people's homes, short-term care, rehabilitation facilities were not taken into account.
  • The bottleneck in the procurement of medicines and the rising prices were not taken into account.
  • The reimbursed costs for intensive care beds are not sufficient.

Here are the demands of the DIVI

The DIVI therefore demands a lump sum for each newly created intensive care bed between 85,000 and 100,000 euros, which is paid out immediately, as well as the updating of the budget from 2019 to 2020.

DGK also expresses great concerns

DIVI is not the only specialist society to complain about the lack of compensation. The German Society for Cardiology - Cardiovascular Research (DGK) also criticizes the demands. Although the DGK welcomes efforts to curb the further spread of SARS-CoV-2, the compensation for COVID-19-related financial burdens on hospitals and other health care facilities is so short that the DGK is very concerned about the regulation.

Specialist societies trusted the Minister of Health

"The exceptional situation in which the health care system in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is already in Germany is transparent and omnipresent," wrote the DGK in a statement on the assumption of costs. The clinics have relied on the Federal Minister's statement that the current economic burden should not be a lever to deprive hospitals of their livelihood as a result of the corona crisis. On this basis, the necessary and required measures were implemented.

Advance of trust has not paid off

"However, from the DGK's point of view, the financial commitments in the current draft law do not keep up with the commitments made previously and the legitimate trust based on them," criticizes the DGK. The DGK holds the following points before the government:

  • Despite the regulation in the planned law, there is an underfunding for each newly installed intensive care bed.
  • The compensation payments for bed capacities that were correctly kept free were in no way appropriate.
  • Additional personnel costs that also arise outside of those for nursing staff would not be offset.

Bureaucratic hurdles must also be overcome

In addition, the planned regulation unreasonably delays the build-up of intensive capacities. Approval must first be given by the respective state authorities responsible for hospital planning. This leads to an unacceptable time delay.

DGK demands adjustment of the draft law

"The unprecedented medical challenge, which can only be met through a joint effort of all sectors operating in the health system, must not be accompanied by the concern of economic disadvantages as a result of such a commitment," emphasizes Professor Dr. Andreas Zeiher, President of the DGK. "We therefore urge the political decision-makers to adapt the bill accordingly." A sustained discussion about the financing of hospital services in this situation is neither understandable for the population nor conveyable to the service providers in the health system, according to the DGK. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • DIVI: PM: Corona pandemic: "The proposed law to finance the COVID-19 treatments is not acceptable!" (Published: 22.03.2020),
  • DGK: German Society for Cardiology criticizes the draft law to offset financial burdens on hospitals (published: March 23, 2020),

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