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Escalating costs and falling receipts spell trouble

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7557.14 (Published 29 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:14
  1. Mathias Huter
  1. Berlin

    A huge financial deficit is fuelling demands for healthcare reform. Sound familiar? No, it is not the NHS in Britain but Germany's once respected health service. Mathias Huter reports

    Germany's health system is facing a huge deficit after health insurance companies reported a €1.2bn (£0.83bn; $15.bn) shortfall for the first quarter of 2006. The federal health minister, Ulla Schmidt, has warned that the deficit could be much higher by the end of the year, and some have estimated that it could reach €7bn, out of a total budget of €145bn.


    Embedded Image

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure to deal with huge deficits in the health system

    Credit: MARKUS SCHREIBER/PA

    And with the health ministry saying that health insurance contributions may have to rise to plug the financial gap, calls for long awaited healthcare reforms have been increasing.

    “If the government doesn't react immediately, insurance fees will rise to a new record in the next year. This would be a horrific scenario,” said Dieter Hundt, president of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations.

    The huge deficit in Germany's health service has been blamed on higher spending on drugs and hospital treatment and a drop in the number of people paying health insurance contributions.

    Under the current system all employed Germans have to pay compulsory health insurance. The amount depends on a …

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