Hospitals and family doctors struggling with higher electricity prices

North Estonia Medical Center (PERH).
North Estonia Medical Center (PERH). Source: PERH

Family doctors and hospitals are struggling with higher electricity prices. As a result of the energy carriers' fees getting more expensive, the Health Insurance Fund's (Haigekassa) council is starting to consider increasing the price of health care services.

There are five family doctors working in the energy-efficient Nõmme health center, which was completed two months ago. December's bill came to over €8,000, which means that a tenth of the money received from the Health Insurance Fund will go straight to the energy provider, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

December's bill took the family doctor Eero Merilind by surprise. Whereas in November, the center's bill was €1,200, then the bill in December was six times higher. The maximum total cost of one square meter is planned to be €4, in December the electricity cost alone exceeded it twice.

"To our knowledge, we planned the house to be as economic as possible, used the latest technologies, air-to-water pumps, solar panels, the building is well-heated," Merilind said.

On Wednesday, the center representatives are meeting with the builder of the center to find a saving place. The outdoor lighting of the car park and the building will be removed, but Merilind said that it will not save much. One option would be to save on ventilation, but this is not wise during coronavirus conditions.

It is difficult to earn a supplementary profit because you cannot ask for a visit fee paid certificates cannot be issued.

"We hope that the health insurance fund will find solutions. If it is not found, it will be very difficult to cope," Merilind said.

The electricity bill of the North Estonian Regional Hospital (PERH) approached almost half a million in December.

"If November was already double the previous periods, then December was still double compared to November. In terms of unit prices, the average price in November was about 13 cents and in December already 22 cents," Taavi Gröön, the financial manager at PERH said.

Although utility costs make up about 1.5 percent of the hospital's budget, this is a significant increase, Gröön said. However, the hospital does not have a quick way to change its energy consumption.

"All the money that the hospital essentially earns on a daily basis is returned to the service. And if there are fewer of these funds, there is actually less investment, and no improvement," he went on.

The Minister of Health Tanel Kiik (Center) said that the basic principles of the list of health care services for the next period will be reviewed by the Health Insurance Fund's council on Friday.

"Perhaps to assess whether the financing model of hospitals and other health care institutions takes into account significantly higher electricity and other prices," Kiik said.

The minister said that the possibility of changing the list of health care services retroactively, i.e. for the whole year, may be considered.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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