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Contradictory Sites of Assetization: Extracting Rents from the German National Healthcare Sector

Authors: Richard Buzek*, University of M√ľnster
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: rent, assetization, healthcare, operations of capital, private equity
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The world of rents has entered the German National healthcare sector. Although the highly regulated German health legislation inhibits the proliferation of financial investors in the realm of healthcare provision, and a subsequent extraction of rents thereof, private equity investors are increasingly buying out outpatient healthcare centers. This development is problematic since private equity firms extract value from a sector based on compulsory contributions to the German Statutory health insurance.
Since a range of private, self-governing bodies has traditionally provided healthcare in Germany, the increasing shift towards a private equity ownership constitutes less an enclosure of healthcare, thus, not a form of accumulation by dispossession. Rather, the paper shows how private equity transforms German healthcare provision into assets and how assetization (Birch 2017; Ouma 2018) enables a new round of value-extraction from the highly regulated German national health insurance sector by utilizing legal loopholes. Furthermore, the paper elaborates how rents extracted from the German healthcare sector are circulating globally, integrating this national sector into multi-scalar spatial operations of capital (Mezzadra & Neilson 2019). By showing that the German healthcare system is currently transformed into a site of rent extraction, I want to contribute to contemporary geographical debates on rent and assetization that, until now, have mainly focused on land, housing, natural resources, as well as the knowledge-, and bio-economy.

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