Medical centres find their position within the health system
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    Medical centres find their position within the health system

    Inclusive medical centres costing as much in health insurance than traditional private fee-paying services dispensed, for example, by GPs. For patients, care given in inclusively funded centres is, however, less expensive, and even of a better quality when related to a given number of indicators. This is indicated on Friday by the Intermutulist Agency (known as the “AIM”) whilst the recognition of new medical centres has been frozen by the Health Minister, Maggie De Block.

    The recognition of new medical centres has indeed been suspended for a year whilst the results of an audit within the sector, by KPMG accountants and auditors, are pending. This measure should enable a saving of 7 million euros, an approach hotly disputed by the sector. The sector itself is fearing the prospect of access to health care for the most vulnerable being more difficult.

    Ten years after an initial study by the Federal Centre for Health Care Expertise (known as “KCE”), AIM has therefore decided produce a new comparative study of both the costs and the quality and of care with the two systems (inclusively funded and paying, editor’s note) which exist in Belgium. This study compared two samples of 50,000 people having the same characteristics, one group receiving care in the inclusively funded system and the other in the paying system.

    The AIM study stresses, “The study found that although primary expenditure (including, for example, medicine, physiotherapy and nursing care) are higher in the inclusively funded system, this additional cost is compensated for by the savings produced in secondary care (in terms of, for example, medicines, hospitalizations, other forms of institutionalised care and other services).”

    The study flags up other advantages of inclusive centres. Michiel Callens, the spokesperson of AIM, stresses, “The patients have higher detection rates, the rate of vaccination against flu for older people is also better. In addition the centres are prescribing more generic medicines and fewer antibiotics…and the quality is overall better.”

    The spokesman goes on, the analysis conducted by AIM however reveals disparities between the various medical centres. Consequently, AIM is requesting the establishment of clear rules from the minister. These are notably concerning the care quality and multidisciplinary approach.

    The study goes on, “The added value provided by the inclusively funded system to the most fragile populations from a socio-economic viewpoint must be acknowledged.” Lastly this demonstrates “that inclusive funding clearly has its place in our health care system, alongside traditional paying systems.”

    De Block’s office states that this study is “a useful complement to the audit we have requested. We are going to combine both analyses to produce an accurate picture, to be able to take appropriate measures. The definitive audit report is expected for the beginning of next year.”

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times