Patients will know the cost of treatments but they will not have to pay for them directly

The Catalan Minister for Health, Boi Ruiz, announced today that patients will get a symbolic bill when leaving the centre informing them about the drug treatments’ costs. The Minister also stated that “for the moment” patients will not have to directly pay a part of the medical costs.

CNA / Lluís Vilaró

February 3, 2011 11:28 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Minister for Health announced in the Catalan Parliament’s Commission on Health that next Monday patients in the Girona province will get information on the cost of their medication treatment received in hospitals or health centres. Gradually, within three months time, the measure will be extended to the entire Catalonia. He also added to the debate the so-called healthcare’s “co-payment”. The Minister Boi Ruiz said that “for the moment” this measure is not planned. However, in the future, after the economic crisis, patients could have to directly pay for a small part of their treatment, some services or a symbolic fixed amount (i.e. 1 or 5 euros per doctor’s visit).

The Catalan Government is responsible for the network of public hospitals and health centres in Catalonia. This administration is thus responsible for Catalans’ public healthcare. And the Catalan healthcare system has enormous costs. In addition, it lacks some funding, for instance from transferred competences from the Spanish Government that did not come with the sufficient amount of money. The new Catalan Government has the objective of reducing public deficit and it has set a reduction of 850 million euros in this year’s healthcare bill. The new Minister for Healthcare, Boi Ruiz, comes from the private health industry. His main objective is to reduce the costs of healthcare, mainly by rationalising the demand. In addition, some services could also be reduced, at least in some hospitals. Ruiz also explained that new services would be included in the public healthcare, such as dentistry.

The fist concrete measure he announced is symbolical and aims to make the patient more aware of the healthcare’s costs. The initiative will start next Monday in the province of Girona and then in 3 months it will be implemented across all of Catalonia. Patients, when leaving the hospital or the health centre, will receive a “symbolic” bill informing them about their medication’s costs. According to Ruiz, the measure will make the citizen aware of the real costs and will fight against the “false perception that the system is for free”. The initiative will be joined by information posters and will be promoted at primary health centres, picturing the real costs of visits or diagnostic tests. In 6 months-time, the Ministry will evaluate the economic impact of these measures.