The deficits of the government hospitals' operating budgets doubled from NIS 324 million in 2007 to NIS 648m. in 2008, according to a new report by the Health Ministry's chief accountant, released for publication on Wednesday morning.
Among the main reasons were major hikes in salaries of doctors, nurses and others due to wage agreements; higher expenses for medical negligence; renovation and construction; and reduced hospital income due to a rise in required global "capping" discounts to the health funds.
The eighth annual ministry accountant's report was praised by Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman for its transparency and focus on the financial management of the state hospitals. The report was based on official financial reports of the hospital's accounting professionals plus analyses at the macro and micro economic levels.
The government hospitals have 48 percent of the general hospital beds in the country, and their activities gross a total of NIS 7.06 billion - a real increase of 2.7% over 2007.
The share of debts not paid to the hospitals on time, mostly by the IDF and private insurance companies, rose to NIS 1.47b. and constituted a 6% increase over the 2007 figure.
The author of the report, David Gershonovitz, said that the insurance company problem will cease due to the Arrangements Law of 2009 that will bring about, starting in January, the transfer of money for road accident victims' treatment directly to the health funds and then to the hospitals. Delays in payments from the IDF resulted from the cancellation of an agreement giving it discounts for soldiers' care in hospitals.
Expenditures on malpractice payments increased from NIS 144m. in 2007 to NIS 154m. last year, an increase of 7%.
The value of hospital property and equipment, whose average was calculated at 30% of their original value, declined - evidence that as these items age, they are not being replaced in time, Gershonovitz wrote.
This phenomenon was most blatant at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, where much of the facilities and equipment are "very old" and thus lost more of their original value.