Old patients are not automatically more expensive

Old patients are not automatically more expensive

Overestimated additional costs of demographic change

In general, a large part of the rising costs in the health system are attributed to demographic change or the aging of the population. But the additional costs of old patients are systematically overestimated according to calculations by the health insurance company Barmer GEK. Only a fraction of the cost increases are due to the higher average age.

"Doctors and clinics routinely justify their demands for fee surcharges with the age-related increase in disease burdens," according to the CEO of Barmer GEK. "But" more elderly patients do not necessarily mean more treatment needs, "emphasized Dr. Christoph Straub. According to calculations by the Barmer GEK, only 18 percent of the actual cost increases in the years 2007 to 2010 are due to “pure age structure effects”. The argument of demographic change "is being pushed too much into the foreground", according to the largest German health insurance company.

Aging of the population causes only a fraction of the cost increase In recent years, cost increases in health care have often been justified by the aging of the population. But according to calculations by the Barmer GEK, this is actually responsible for less than a fifth of the increase in expenditure. From the annual increase in costs by an average of around 88 euros per person in the years 2007 to 2010, only 16 euros (18 percent) were caused by the demographic change, the health insurance company reports. Accordingly, older patients cause significantly less costs than generally assumed. The actual cost drivers are much more the medical-technical progress, the changed supply structures, price increases and the increasing marketing of medical services, explained the experts at the Barmer GEK on Thursday in Berlin. The statement is somewhat explosive because Dr. At the same time, Straub pointed out that demands for medical doctor surcharges were “routinely based on the age-related increase in disease burden”.

Negotiations between the medical profession and health insurance companies The publication of the Barmer GEK results took place in parallel with the decisive round of negotiations between the medical profession and health insurance companies regarding future remuneration. Here the suspicion of a certain calculation arises, since the calculations tend to strengthen the argumentation of the health insurance companies. In the negotiations, they had massively resisted the Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians' demand for an additional 3.5 billion euros and instead discussed lowering the benchmark for the remuneration. The arbitration award now made provides for an increase in remuneration of 0.9 percent or around 300 million euros. A result with which the health insurance companies can be satisfied. The doctors, on the other hand, are considering other ways to achieve their demand for a significant increase in remuneration.

Age-related cost increases peak in 2013 The figures presented by the Barmer GEK show that the demographic-related cost increases in the health care system are lower than previously assumed. But the calculations also make it clear that there has been a steadily increasing amount of additional work in recent years. The numbers therefore serve only to a limited extent as an argument against a significant increase in doctors' salaries. According to the author of the current study, Uwe Repschläger, head of corporate management at Barmer GEK, the cost increases due to the influence of demographic change will already peak in 2013. By the year 2040, only annual increases of between 11 and 13 euros per capita are expected. (fp)

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