IGeL services are not always necessary: a new portal is designed to provide patients with information
Gone are the days when statutory health insurance companies, from dentures to special examinations for pregnant women, took over all of the services. Anyone who goes to the doctor today is asked to pay for so-called individual health services (IGeL). However, patients are often overwhelmed, because as a layperson it is difficult to assess which additional services are necessary from a medical point of view. A new internet portal is intended to help patients as well as specialists in assessing the need for IGeL services.
According to the GKV, IGeL is primarily concerned with the economic interests of doctors. Doris Pfeiffer, CEO of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, explains about the new internet portal: "IGeL services are primarily about the economic interests of doctors and not about the necessary medical services for the sick. We therefore support the new MDS information portal. It enables insured persons to make a decision based on empirical medical assessments. "
Pfeiffer believes it is imperative that a written agreement between the doctor and patient about additional services is concluded. No patient should be taken by surprise in a doctor's office with IGeL services. Patients should have enough time to consider.
In the new Internet portal of the medical service of the umbrella organization of the Federation of Health Insurance Companies (MDS), insured persons can find out about 24 frequently offered IGeL services. Scientifically based assessments of individual services are available to the user. An example is acupuncture for the prevention of migraines, which “tends to be positive” because it has fewer side effects and fewer treatment discontinuations compared to standard drug treatment. However, whether she is superior to medication remains questionable.
Five categories are used for evaluation. The Internet portal also provides information on price ranges for IGeL services and recommendations from other experts. Certain sections are also specific to experts and methodologists. The performance is assessed in a summary based on five categories. “Positive” means that the benefit clearly outweighs the damage. "Trend positive" means that the benefits outweigh the damage only slightly. “Unclear” means that the benefits and harm outweigh the benefits or are unknown. With "Trend negative" the damage slightly outweighs the benefits, while "Negative" means that the damage clearly outweighs the benefits.
MDS Managing Director Peter Pick explains that the goal is to stop another IGeL service every month. In one to two years, the portal should cover a large part of the IGeL market.
Every fourth patient already uses IGeL services According to a study by the scientific institute of the AOK (WidO), every fourth German has already used an additional medical health service. The trend is increasing, because in 2001 it was just nine percent of the population, while today it is 28.3 percent. It is not certain that these additional services are necessary in every case.
The GKV Lace Association calls for a "24-hour blocking period" for the patients, so that they can calmly consider whether additional medical services could be considered. It is questionable whether this demand will ever be given in the form of a law. Because the economic benefits of IGel services are high. Since 2005, sales have increased by 50 percent to 1.5 billion euros annually. (ag)
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