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Limit individual health services?
The individual health services (IGeL) are extremely controversial, since the patients have to pay for them out of their own pocket and the accusation of enrichment of the doctors arises again and again. The SPD parliamentary group has therefore submitted an application that the provision of individual health services should be made significantly more difficult.
In its application, the SPD demands, among other things, an obligation for doctors to inform patients about the reasons why individual health services are not covered by statutory health insurance (GKV). According to the SPD, physicians should also be prohibited from billing individual health services and treatment at the same time as GKV on the same day in order to avoid inappropriate linking of different treatments.
Aggressive marketing in medical practices? According to the statement in the SPD application, "Patients in doctors' offices are being pushed to individual health services, in part through aggressive marketing". This is a lucrative business for the doctors, which is confirmed by the individual health care services billed in 2010 in German medical practices worth EUR 1.5 billion. For the patients, however, the IGeL are often of no specific use and only lead to additional financial burdens, according to the Social Democrats' criticism. "Patients often receive neither written treatment contracts nor written invoices," criticize the health experts at the SPD in the current application. In the long term, the IGeL would permanently damage the doctor-patient relationship, which is why the SPD believes that the provision of individual health services should be regulated much more strictly in the future.
Abuse of the IGeL must be ruled out At yesterday's first reading in the Bundestag, the parties across the factions agreed that abuse of the IGeL for business purposes only must be ruled out. How to deal with the SPD's application in detail should now be further discussed in the Health Committee. The SPD has presented eight specific points that are to be incorporated into a corresponding federal government bill, although it is not yet certain whether all positions will be shared by the other parties in this form. An important aspect of the proposed resolutions is the information of the patients. For example, according to the SPD's plans, an overview prepared by the federal government should be put up in every practice that offers individual health services so that patients can find out about individual health services. The SPD demands that the respective IGeL not be included in the statutory health insurance benefits catalog.
Contract doctors should not provide IGeL but health insurance benefits. In addition, according to the SPD's application, the statutory health insurance companies should inform their insureds about individual health benefits. The Social Democrats also demand that a written treatment contract must be concluded with the IGeL, in which the doctors provide their patients with comprehensive information. In addition, there should be a personal discussion to educate the patient. A written invoice must be submitted for all individual health services, otherwise the patients are not obliged to pay, the SPD application continues. Only in exceptional cases should it be possible in the future to bill both IGeL and normal cash benefits for a patient in one day, the Social Democrats demand. The SPD health politician Mechthild Rawert justified this point with reports from citizens who would only have had an appointment with the doctor if they had previously agreed to an individual health service. “Even special services that are in demand, such as B. Travel vaccinations or sports medical examinations ”should continue to be allowed on the same day as health insurance benefits, according to the SPD application. Another essential point of the SPD demand is that "contract doctors" are obliged to "use the majority of their working hours to treat insured persons with statutory health insurance with health insurance benefits".
The SPD also received an average additional income of 11,000 euros from IGeL support from the left-wing health expert Harald Weinberg, who emphasized how difficult it is for patients to assess individual health services. Also, very few IGeL are medically useful, but are often rather useless and sometimes even harmful. According to Weinberg, IGeL is a worthwhile business model for doctors that earns them an average of 11,000 euros per doctor and year, but this additional income is often at the expense of the doctor-patient relationship. In his speech, the left-wing health expert also referred to the statement made by the Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Köhler, who had spoken out in favor of sensitive handling of individual health services so as not to impair the relationship of trust between doctor and patient.
Patients' Rights Act comes at the turn of the year The CDU also approved various points of the application, but it is sometimes exaggerated and there is a bit of an impression that all freedom of choice for patients contradicts the idea of the SPD, emphasized the CDU health expert, Erwin Rüddel. After all, patients are free to make use of the IGeL or to waive it. The patient rights law, which comes into force at the turn of the year, also regulates the information about the costs and benefits of individual health services by the treating doctor. Any issues that may be supported by the government parties should now be clarified in the further deliberations in the health committee. (fp)
Which IGeL services really make sense
IGeL services at the doctor are often unnecessary
Health insurance companies want to restrict additional services
Doctors as sellers of additional services
Doctor's appointments: health insurance patients are disadvantaged
Hardly any useful additional services at the doctor
Image: Andrea Damm / pixelio.de