“This is an important first step. We want to bring about a change of mentality in hospitals with the aim of gradually and effectively reducing fee supplements in a next phase to protect the patient against high bills,” he said in a statement.
This agreement will be translated into a royal decree.
“We are putting a brake on the increase in fee supplements by freezing the maximum percentages at hospital level. This percentage freeze is applicable immediately. At the same time, a ‘standstill’ is introduced for doctors’ fee retrocessions in order to protect them too. This ‘standstill’ is applied in a way that does not hinder innovation, in consultation with hospitals and doctors, but it prevents doctors from having to pay for the freeze on supplements, ”added Mr Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) .
According to the socialist minister, patients are not sufficiently protected against high hospital bills.
Fee supplements and costs excluding health insurance should not be able to be billed to the patient. Currently, these situations exist, even without the patient being informed beforehand, and they can lead to unpleasant surprises. There are legal tariffs, but under certain conditions, doctors can charge additional fees and hospitals room supplements. In a single room at the hospital, the patient pays up to seven times more than in a double room for the same treatment by the same doctor.
Fee supplements are increasing from year to year and we must reverse this trend, because it makes no sense, underlined Mr. Vandenbroucke.
According to him, the total amount of additional fees billed for hospitalizations is 610 million euros out of a total amount of 3.28 billion euros in doctors’ fees. These fee supplements increase more rapidly than reimbursement by health insurance.
The patient’s average bill per stay (all types of room combined) for standard hospitalization is 642 euros, including 349 euros in additional fees. By only taking into consideration single rooms in conventional hospitalization, the bill amounts to 2,119 euros, including 1,438 euros in additional fees, the minister further specified.