Electronic health card mandatory from Jan 2014

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Court ruling on electronic health card

The electronic health card (eGK) was supposed to replace the old health insurance card (KVK) as early as 2006. Technical problems were just as much to blame for the postponement, as were fundamental discussions about necessity and data security. Now a court has again ruled on the obligation to have a health card.

Years of delays The electronic health card (eGK) was to replace the health insurance card (KVK) that had been in force since 1995. However, technical problems as well as fundamental discussions about necessity and data security delayed the introduction for years. Now it should be the first of January 2014 and the old KVK loses its validity. The majority of the approximately 70 million legally insured are already in possession of an eGK, only about 5 percent have only the KVK.

Berlin court decision The data protection concerns about the new card have been an issue since its planned introduction. This also applies to an insured person from Berlin who has submitted an application for legal protection to oblige his health insurance company to issue him a certificate of his insurance cover, which he can use instead of the eGK. He justified this among other things with the public criticism of the card and that he did not want to use the "biometric health cards". However, it was initially defeated by law and the Berlin Social Court had decided on November 7th (Az: S 81 KR 2176/13 ER) that there was no claim against the health insurance companies to issue other proof of insurance. The decision is not yet final and can be challenged by the applicant.

Few insured persons exempt from compulsory photos The plaintiff in Berlin is certainly not the only critic. At Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) alone, they would have expressed their concerns in writing for data protection reasons. When and which data is stored exactly on the eGK has not yet been fully clarified. Even emergency data would not be saved on it for the time being. However, there must be a current photo of the insured on the card. Only insured persons under the age of 15 and a few others, such as those in need of care or people to whom a religious conviction prohibits a photo, received their eGK without a photo.

Financial concerns Financial reasons are also being raised against the electronic health card. By June of this year, 728 million euros are said to have been invested in the eGK, and that despite the fact that their advantages are controversial. In this way, a benefit could only be secured in the long term, because better data connections would make it easier and faster to access patient health data. For data protection reasons, however, this poses problems.

Health insurance card may be valid longer Patients who are still without the new eGK on January 1, however, still have insurance protection and must be treated by a doctor. Roland Stahl of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) explained that the old KVK was still valid until the printed date of validity. Since the cards are valid for seven years for employees and even for 20 years for pensioners, this could take some time. The KBV and the umbrella organization of statutory health insurers have agreed on a transition period, which will be interpreted differently by both sides. Even if it is sometimes said that all old cards will be valid until the end of September 2014 at the most, according to Stahl, most doctors should stick to the date printed on them. The health insurers could not do anything about this, since the doctors do not settle directly with them, but through the health insurance associations. (ad)

Picture: Sample card of the BKK

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