Angela Merkel is examining abolition of the practice fee

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Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering abolishing practice fees

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is considering the general abolition of practice fees because the health fund has billions of surpluses and individual health insurance companies are beginning to reimburse the practice fee to their insured persons. Voices by the coalition partner FDP and the opposition have been calling for the fees to be abolished for some time.

Will the practice fees still be abolished during this legislative period? In response to this question, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said: "The Chancellor is currently thinking intensively about the arguments put forward". For this purpose, the Chancellor wanted to "get an overall picture in the healthcare system". When asked by the journalists whether Angela Merkel "continues to reject the abolition of the practice fees required by the FDP," said Seibert, "the arguments presented are currently being examined".

In this context, the Federal Ministry of Health, chaired by Minister Daniel Bahr (FDP), is calling for the fees to be abolished quickly. "From our point of view, there is no reason to hold on," said Health Ministry spokesman Christian Albrecht. Rather, the fees were "screwed up" and it was a positive signal that "after the KKH alliance, Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), Germany's second largest health insurer, is reimbursing insured persons for the practice fee under certain conditions".

Jens Spahn, health spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, had previously announced that there would be no changes with the CDU / CSU. In an interview with the radio station "Deutschlandradio Kultur", Spahn emphasized that the billions surpluses of the health insurance companies are "a treasure that we should guard for bad times instead of squandering them and then waking up with a hangover". The Federal Association of General Local Health Insurance Funds (AOK) is also against revising the fees introduced in 2004. Instead, "the surpluses should be used for structural reforms".

The opposition is vehemently calling for the abolition of practice fees. For SPD Secretary General Andrea Nahles, "checking the situation is not enough". According to Nahles, the Chancellor and coalition partner should “finally come to Potte”. There had to be a legal regulation to “abolish the practice fee so that all insured could benefit from the financial plus from the health insurance companies”.

Katja Kipping, Co-Chair of the Left Group, was upset. “Black and yellow has been blocking an application to abolish the practice fee in the health committee since spring. That is now the end, "said Kipping of the" WAZ ". According to Kipping, the Bundestag should vote on the abolition in November. To achieve this, the left wants to put its proposal back on the agenda. Then" the FDP must decide whether they are closer to the citizens or their ministerial chairs, "argued Kipping.

Practice fee has not made sense
For every first contact with a doctor in the quarter, insured persons must pay a fee of 10 euros. The practice fees were introduced in 2004 as part of the health care reform to "reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the doctor". Thanks to the extra fee, the health insurance companies earn around 2 billion euros more per year. A study showed that the practice fee failed to make any sense. Sick people go to the doctor despite the fee, the number of doctor contacts could not be significantly reduced.

The KKH alliance announced that it would “de facto abolish the practice fees for its insured persons from 2013 onwards. Kassen CEO Ingo Kailuweit criticized the "practice fee burdens insured people who have become unilaterally ill". In addition, the fee has no control mechanisms. "That is not fair," said Kailuweit. Therefore, the KKH alliance did not want to wait until the legislator "gets the insight to abolish the practice fees".

Shortly thereafter, the board of directors of the Techniker Kassel decided to make the premium payment to its members from the turn of the year and to reimburse the practice fee under certain conditions. This means that every member of the TK Kassen member who pays a premium receives a premium for the period between May and December 2013. If a member has fewer contribution months, "a proportional reimbursement will take place". However, members are excluded from this regulation if they have a contribution arrears.

TK cash board chairman Jens Baas said that the TK would repay around 500 million euros to the cash patients. If insured persons also take part in health courses, preventive programs or early detection examinations, premium payments of up to EUR 60 can be obtained again.

The Hanseatische Krankenkasse (HEK) announced a premium of 75 euros as the third fund. Regardless of the length of membership, the payment will be transferred to each member subject to membership on May 1, 2013. The board of directors decided that unanimously. The bonus is used to pay out the entire annual surplus to the 300,000 members who pay the membership fee. Family members who are co-insured will not receive a refund. (sb)

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DGB: Practice fee should be abolished
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