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The Bundesverband Medizintechnologie (BVMed) has criticised the costing and pricing pressures placed on medical product manufacturers by statutory sickness funds. In particular, this has reached a dangerous level for supplies and dressings ranges.

„Particularly harmful to statutory sickness funds is the process of tendering, where the only deciding factor is the lowest price“ said BV-Med CEO Meinrad Lugan at the Spring-Autumn meeting of his association in Berlin. „We have changed focus from price to a genuine quality competition – much to the benefit of patients.“ 

An undesirable consequence of price competition is, for example, the supply situation with absorbent incontinence products. This has led to dishonesty in the amounts charged for these, due to the small amount of reimbursements made to the statutory sickness funds.

Also highlighted by the Verband was that the high quality of patient treatment is important, together with the products and the service. This must be taken into account in any agreement, with reimbursements being paid accordingly.

Commentary: The quality of care is at risk, when the main deciding factor of tender is the cheapest provider. In particular, with custom-made auxiliaries this decision is not always the most economical. The insured lose the advantage of a variety of different providers.

This is particularly problematic, when supply areas with a high proportion of services are advertised for tender, as in the care of pressure sores. In this context. the Qualitätsverbund Hilfsmittel (QVH) emphasises that the use of health aids dependant upon the individual situation is critical. Whether the purpose-defined criteria has been complied with in wake of recent tenders is debatable.

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