Fund debts force private clinics to shut down

Two private clinics have been forced to shut down in the last few months, while at least another 50 are on the verge of closure due to the economic crisis and social security funds? failure to pay their debts.

A few days ago the Christodoulou Clinic in Nikaia, near Piraeus, shut down due to cash problems. The 54 patients were taken to other clinics on the initiative of the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY).

A few months earlier the Kyanous Stavros hospital in Larissa, central Greece, had announced it was temporarily closing for the first time since 1977, as a result of EOPYY?s inability to pay for the healthcare of those insured with the fund. Some 20 patients were discharged and had to make their own arrangements as to where they would be transferred, while 22 employees have been left in a vacuum, without being dismissed and having already gone unpaid for four to six months.

Two major clinics on Crete that cater to a large number of patients and which have a turnover of between 8-10 million euros are said to be near crumbling point. In February the Neo Athinaio clinic in Athens filed for bankruptcy and its case will be heard this fall.

The common problem among all these private health institutions is the failure of social security funds to service their accumulated debts, which for the period from April 2007 to December 2011 amount to some 700 million euros, as well as about 100 million euros for this year. Out of private clinics? annual turnover of 1 billion euros, some 400 million euros comes from patients covered by EOPYY.

?Social security funds? unpaid debts to private clinics put most of them at risk, as even the units that were healthy businesses until recently are now battling for survival. The most vulnerable are the smaller units, the majority of which are located in provincial areas, while even the big clinics are recording huge drops in turnover, which will be seen mainly in the results of the year?s second quarter,? the head of the Association of Private Clinics, Grigoris Sarafianos, told Kathimerini.

First-quarter figures have incorporated the turnover from healthcare supplied to Libyan refugees following the recent conflict in the North African country, adding up to some 120 million euros, which clinics have not yet received. The real picture will therefore emerge in the second- and third-quarter figures. Sarafianos says that some 50 private clinics out of the sector?s 161 have been blacklisted due to bounced checks.