Insurers say hospitals overcharge €1.5 billion

Wrong medical bills from clinics and hospitals are costing up to €1.5 billion a year, according to Germany’s statutory health insurers.

Insurers say hospitals overcharge €1.5 billion
Photo: DPA

The association of statutory insurance companies, GKV-Spitzenverband, said an audit showed that nearly half of all invoices submitted for reimbursement had mistakes in them.

“Last year, the proportion of hospital bills that we found contained errors, was higher than ever,” said Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg, from the Spitzenverband. He said it was possible the errors were now being discovered more often because insurance companies were getting more aggressive or because the hospitals were getting worse at submitting their bills.

“But the result is the same – far too many bills are wrong,” he said. A total overcharging of health insurance payers to the tune of up to €1.5 billion was not acceptable, he said. The insurers pay around €59 billion for inpatient care a year.

Incorrect medical bills have been a concern in Germany for years, with the Federal Audit Office even complaining about the problem this spring.

Examples of overcharging include a patient with a severe fungal infection whose hospital billed for an expensive drug when he was actually given one that cost €57,000 less.

In another case, an 82-year-old patient with a pelvic fracture was reported to have been given treatment that he never actually received, a discovery which saved insurance companies €11,700.

Stackelberg called for politicians to ensure, “that hospitals finally have a real incentive to bill properly.” Each incorrect bill should attract a fine of €300 per bill he suggested.

This last proposal was rejected by the German Hospital Federation (DKG) whose manager Georg Baum said the fact was that 96 percent of all cases regarding bills remained as they were despite intensive checks. “The questioned bills are overwhelmingly in cases of clashing medical opinion,” he said.

The effective rate of repayment was less than one percent, he said. The idea that the questioned payments adding up to €1.5 billion could be simply due to erroneous billing was “highly dubious”, he said.

The Local/DPA/mdm

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime