The Audit Office has flagged several contracts made between the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) and private hospitals who joined the national health scheme Gesy.
In preliminary findings, discussed in parliament on Thursday, the government watchdog highlighted in particular the situation where certain hospitals that are members of Gesy seem to be providing a two-tiered system of services.
Effectively, said Audit Office spokesperson Marios Petrides, it has allowed some healthcare facilities to maintain a ‘private wing’ that is outside the Gesy system.
“This means that a patient who does pay a contribution and is entitled to healthcare under Gesy, may visit a hospital – which is also in the Gesy system – and be asked to pay an amount outside of the system because the service they will receive may not be covered at the time in question.”
He added: “There is the risk that some patients are told: there are no beds available under the Gesy system, but if you’d like surgery I [the hospital] have certain beds that are outside Gesy.”
This is discriminatory practice that opens the door to shenanigans, Petrides noted.
MPs said these practices – for which there is anecdotal evidence – violate the ‘open house’ principle governing the national health scheme – equal access to services for all.
Moreover, since these two-tier phenomena manifest with certain private hospitals who are part of Gesy, but not with others, it gives those facilities an unfair advantage.
Edek MP Marinos Sizopoulos said the government must ask the attorney-general’s office for a legal opinion on whether these arrangements between the HIO and hospitals are lawful.
If they are not, a disciplinary or even criminal probe ought to be launched.