19 April 2004
BERLIN – Germany’s statutory health insurers have moved to abandon the country’s deeply unpopular quarterly EUR 10 payment for visits to the doctor.
Introduced on 1 January as part of the Schroeder Government’s far-reaching reform of Germany’s creaking healthcare system, the push by the nation’s leading statutory health funds to end the payment is a further sign that the reforms are starting to be felt.
Germany’s health ministry has already announced that the reforms, which increased the cost of healthcare and eliminated a series of long-standing benefits, would mean cuts in contributions rates for more than 50 percent of patients next month.
Now the nation’s big public health insurers have said that those using recognised doctors will no longer have the EUR 10 a quarter charge, which was aimed at forcing patients to first consult their GP before seeing a specialist and to avoid so-called doctor-hopping so as to restrict patients to one medical examination.
German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt welcomed the public insurers’ move saying that it demonstrated that once in place the reforms would be successful.
Payments made this year will be considered as a EUR 40 bonus by the insurers. Those people visiting doctors that are not recognised by the insurers will continue to have to make the quarterly EUR 10 payments.
Those covered by private insurers have not been required to make the payments.
The move by the public insurers follows complaints by the industry about the amount of paperwork generated by the EUR 10 charge, in particular as a large number of people have refused to pay it.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: German news