Selected Αspects of Hospital Financing During the 1st and 2nd Waves of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Purpose: The aim of this scientific study is to analyze selected rules governing the financing of hospitals. The studied period is the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aforementioned pandemic waves posed new challenges for hospitals in respect to patient treatment, which had to entail changes in the financing of such medical entities. The author discusses the financing of health services, costs generated by "hospital beds", and the costs of protection and treatment of the patients infected with Sars-CoV-2. One of the changes that has affected the whole system was the introduction of the "Medical Fund". Methodology: The article uses the following research methods: historical and legal – selected legal acts and communications issued by public administration bodies such as the Minister of Health and the President of the National Health Fund were analyzed, including their effect on public health institutions during the first two waves; dogmatic and legal – a systemic and linguistic interpretation of legal acts, reports and information found on websites was carried out. Results: The research results allow for putting forward de lege ferenda conclusions which might be helpful if new epidemiological threats emerge in the future. To be more precise, it will be possible for public authorities to better prepare for crisis situations and ensure stable financing of hospitals. Practical implications: The solutions regarding the financing of health services provided by hospitals adopted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic exerted an influence on the evolution of financing medical services during the subsequent waves. Originality: The article is original in its approach to the problem of financing hospitals taking into account the level of COVID protection. Determination of the importance of allocating funds to hospitals during the pandemic waves is an attempt to determine measurable effects for COVID-19 patients and patients not infected with the coronavirus. The article may provide an impetus for an international discussion on the principles governing the financing of medical entities such as hospitals in individual countries.