Abolition of the practice fee does not create an incentive to visit a doctor
At the turn of the year, the practice fee no longer applies. The quarterly fee was introduced with the argument of reducing unnecessary visits to the doctor. A survey study commissioned by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit investigated whether to abolish the question of whether patients postpone doctor visits and examinations in order to avoid paying the practice fee of ten euros.
From 2013, the practice fee for statutory health insurers will no longer apply
Since the health care reform in 2004, all health insurance patients have had to pay a doctor or dentist surcharge of EUR 10 per quarter. At the suggestion of the black and yellow federal government, the Bundestag and Bundesrat unanimously decided to abolish the practice fee by January 1, 2013. A current investigation by the opinion and research institute "Forsa" on behalf of the DAK wanted to find out whether patients postpone examinations or medical consultations in order to save the fee. Another question was whether the insured would go back to the doctor more often after the practice fee ceased. The answer was unequivocal: almost 97 percent of the survey participants stated that the abolition of the practice fee had no influence on the scheduling of doctor's consultations.
Almost only younger people wait until next year
According to the DAK survey, younger people in particular have given up a doctor's appointment in the past few weeks to save on the practice fee. According to the evaluation of the study: “Around one in ten of the 18 to 29 year olds indicated a shift. In the age group over 60 it was only four percent of the respondents. ”The study authors conclude that the number of visits to the doctor in 2013 is unlikely to increase significantly. Almost none of the respondents (3%) thought that they would go to the doctor more often than in the past few months if the practice fee ceased.
"Our survey shows that the practice fee, contrary to what was planned by the politicians, had no controlling effect on visits to the doctor. Ultimately, it was only a purely financing tool in the health system, ”said DAK Health spokesman Jörg Bodanowitz.
Increase in visits to the doctor unlikely
According to the authors, the survey also shows that people do not appear to go to the doctor as much as is sometimes claimed in the public debate. In discussions about the abolition of the practice fee, politicians and experts repeatedly mentioned figures from studies that could not be confirmed in this way. According to one argument, the "Germans go to the doctor 18 times a year on average". In the current study, only seven percent of the subjects stated that they would have gone to the family doctor or specialist more than 15 times in 2012. The majority of the respondents (57 percent) visited the doctor between one and five times. Seven percent of the respondents even stated that they did not need to see a doctor at all.
A total of 1001 men and women of different ages took part in the representative survey. The study was carried out by the Forsa Institute on behalf of the DAK health insurance company. (sb)
Abolition of the practice fee in 2013
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Picture: Günter Havlena / pixelio.de