4. Paying for services
Adequate funding for health is important to manage the excess demands on the health system. This section considers how countries are PAYING FOR COVID-19 SERVICES. Health financing describes how much is spent on health and the distribution of health spending across different service areas. The section also describes who is covered for COVID-19 testing and treatment, whether there are any notable gaps (in population coverage and service coverage), and how much people pay (if at all) for those services out-of-pocket.
4.1 Health financing
The Ministry of Finance has announced on March 17 that two billion euros will be dedicated to the sanitary fight against the coronavirus epidemic. This budget will be used in particular to fund sick leaves (including for healthy parents with young children, who can no longer work due to the closure of schools, or for people living with vulnerable individuals with pre-existing chronic disorders who have been granted the possibility to ask for a sick leave to protect their relatives), the production of protective masks and to pay for health professionals’ extra working hours. This funding will be part of the overall expenditure target for health insurance, known as the ONDAM (Objectif National de Dépenses d’Assurance Maladie) in 2020. The ONDAM is specified in monetary terms as the total amount of health spending for the forthcoming calendar year and gives all stakeholders a precise objective in terms of spending.
This declaration was followed by one by the French President on March 25 who announced a massive investment plan for hospitals including bonuses for health professionals working during the epidemic. However, the concrete modalities of this plan are unclear in a context where the government had previously been criticized for not increasing enough the budget of public hospitals before the epidemic. Local measures were concurrently announced such as the increase in the allowances of nursing and assistant nurse students who are backing-up trained health professionals in the most affected regions.
Some extra funds have also been coming from the private sector on a charity basis. One of the most striking examples is the funding by the Dassault aerospace company of an accelerated construction of an additional aisle of a hospital in the Parisian region (Hôpital Henri Mondor).