Health system: Coming soon 5 euros practice fee for every doctor's visit?
The black and yellow federal government is apparently planning a separate practice fee for statutory health insurers. Every visit to the doctor should be paid five euros. In return, the quarterly payment of ten euros will then be dropped. According to media reports, the FDP Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr plans to test counter-models to the previous system from winter 2012. The Federal Government, however, denies such reports. Germans are going to the doctor more and more often.
The quarterly payment of a practice fee of 10 euros was introduced in the course of the health reform at the time in order to avoid "unnecessary visits to the doctor". According to studies, the practice fee has led to additional revenue in the health care system, but the number of doctor consultations could not be significantly reduced. On the contrary, Germans go to the doctor more and more, as a study by the Barmer GEK showed. According to their patient data, a resident doctor in Germany treats around 45 patients a day. In 2004 the Germans went to the doctor about 16.4 times a year on average. In 2010 there were already 18.1 doctor visits per year. In an international comparison, German general practitioners have about double patient contacts than anywhere else. Because the current system does not seem to work, the Federal Ministry of Health now wants to improve it.
Ministry of Health denies reports
According to information from the tabloid "Bild", the coalition of the Union and the FDP plans to "reform" the practice fees in the statutory insurance system. According to internal government circles, Health Minister Daniel Bahr (FDP) plans to review new models from spring 2012. So it is conceivable that a separate levy could be due with each visit to the doctor. Health experts advocate increasing the practice fee instead of the quarterly ten euros by now five euros for each visit to the doctor. Under certain circumstances, a further fee may be due, even if the family doctor continues to refer to a specialist. After the reports were published, the Federal Ministry of Health immediately denied them. "Such considerations do not come from the Ministry," as spokesman Christian Albrecht said in Berlin today. "In the coalition, the topic of practice fees has not even been discussed."
Coalition politicians report on practice fee reform But the FDP member of the Bundestag and health expert of the party Lars Lindemann told the picture that the current practice fee had “no controlling function”. "We will examine alternatives in 2012," said Lindemann. The CSU also gave the same indications. CSU MP Johannes Singhammer said: "The current fee has not had the effect of reducing the number of visits to the doctor For this reason, the government wants to check whether there are unbureaucratic and better options. According to Singhammer, this was also agreed in the coalition agreement.
Health economist demands practice fee of five euros for each doctor's appointment At the same time, health economist Jürgen Wasem suggested a practice fee of five euros per medical examination. The economist told the newspaper: "5 euros per visit makes more sense than the current fee". Another option would be a kind of contribution towards the treatment costs. The social expert Thomas Drabinski from Kiel advocated this model. According to the expert's calculations, around five to ten euros would be due per doctor's appointment.
The health insurers said that the projects were worthy of support. The chairman of the Techniker Krankenkasse explained that the control instrument "the practice fee failed for fewer visits to the doctor." For the health fund, the practice fee means an additional annual income of 2.8 billion euros.
Social security also under scrutiny?
It was not possible to find out whether social security was also under scrutiny. For low earners, chronically ill and recipients of unemployment benefit II benefits, there are so-called stress limits. For example, if you are recognized as chronically ill, you will no longer have to pay any additional payments if the limit is exceeded by two percent. If you know in advance that the exposure limit will be exceeded through regular visits to the doctor, you can request a so-called exemption for the coming year from the responsible health insurance company at the end of the old year. To do this, the person concerned must transfer the individual amount to the cash register in advance until the debit limit is reached. Afterwards, the insured person receives a “release certificate”, which is now presented at every doctor's appointment. (sb)
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