Covid-19: with nearly 16 billion euros in expenditure, the Health Insurance budget weighed down by screening tests

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According to a recent report submitted to the Ministry of Health, Health Insurance had a deficit of nearly 24 billion euros at the end of 2021. The reimbursement of screening tests from laboratories and pharmacies weighs heavily in the balance.

It is a Holy Grail that the Health Insurance seems never to be able to extinguish. The sickness branch of Social Security has shown a growing deficit in recent years and is moving further and further away from a balanced budget. In an annual report submitted at the beginning of last July to the Ministry of Health, in view of the next Social Security finance law, Health Insurance thus shows a deficit of nearly 24.6 billion euros for the year 2021.

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Fraud in Covid-19 tests: dozens of pharmacies accused of having embezzled 53 million euros from Health Insurance

The chasm is huge. Before the pandemic, in 2019, the deficit was only 1.5 billion euros. What weighed in the balance for the organization was above all the screening tests against Covid-19. In two years of pandemic, 266 million tests have been carried out in France. The Health Insurance first had to put its hand in its pocket with regard to the PCR tests, carried out in laboratories. Total amount of the envelope: 12 billion euros. Added to this are the costs related to the 151 million antigenic tests carried out in recent years (notably in pharmacies): nearly 4 billion euros out of the wallet.

A few dozen French pharmacies have also taken advantage of the health context to defraud and embezzle at least 53 million euros by declaring false screening tests: a real hole in the racket for Health Insurance.

A new financial pact with the labs?

In practice, during this pandemic, the medical biology sector has seen its turnover increase exponentially. In 2019, the laboratories had earned nearly 5.1 billion euros. This amount doubled in 2021, to reach a ceiling of 9.4 billion euros, while on numerous occasions, Health Insurance has reduced the reimbursement rate for screening tests. Biogroup, Cerballiance, Inovie, Synlab, Eurofins and Unilabs – the 6 largest groups – alone account for 61% of the sector’s turnover, as the Parisian.

Faced with such profitability, the Health Insurance today wishes to set up a new financial pact and a multi-annual regulation of tariffs. The next Social Security finance law could make it possible to make these readjustments.

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