Faster appointments for people with public health insurance in Germany

The German Bundestag has voted in favor of a law aimed at improving the supply of health insurance to patients. People with public health insurance should no longer have to wait months for an appointment with the doctor.

To arrange appointments, the service centers - which already exist but work very differently in the individual federal states - are to be expanded and merged. In addition, the emergency number '116117' shall be accessible around the clock and patients will also be able to make appointments under this number for family doctors and pediatricians. So far, the service centers only help with the agreement of a specialist appointment and each federal state uses a different phone number.

Furthermore, physicians will be obliged to provide at least 25 consultations per week, rather than 20 as it is now. Certain specialists such as ophthalmologists, gynecologists or ENT specialists must offer five open consultations per week to which patients can come without an appointment. In return, the physicians get higher compensation and there will also be surcharges for doctors in the countryside to improve the medical care in the rural regions.

"This law will make medical care faster, better and more digital," said Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach spoke of a law to reduce the two-tier medicine between private and statutory health insured. Months of waiting for doctors' appointments bothers a lot of people and is inhumane.


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