German Federal Health Minister, Jens Spahn, took part in an interview on 26 October 2018, discussing current challenges for the German healthcare system.
One of the questions was on what the government is doing to protect the rural doctors practices, for which many are currently at risk of closure. The response included a reminder that the government have already set many financial incentives for more doctors to choose to work in the countryside and that digitisation such as online consultations would help, plus a discussion of introducing a country doctor quota.
Another question was regarding the problems for private health in Germany. The unequal treatment of Statutory Health Insurance Scheme (GKV) patients and privately insured patients when making appointments was discussed, with Jens Spahn claiming this is one of the biggest issues in the healthcare sector and that it is in everybody’s interest to solve it, including doctors. There is also an increase in required contributions for private health scheme members and oversubscription in the scheme; to which he said patients such as the retirees or low-paid officials who were in the private scheme needed helping. Jens Spahn, who is a member of the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU/CSU), said to provide this help the Social Democratic Party (SPD) need to assist, for example by reopening cheaper tariffs or by allowing smaller contribution adjustments.
For statutory insured persons it was announced that the average additional contribution will drop from 1.0 to 0.9 percent next year, but in the long term the need for care will continue to grow with a 0.5 percentage point increase for contributions for long-term care insurance. He calls for a debate on this, stating:
“I wish a fundamental debate on what long-term care insurance should and can do: How far should the support for the family, the relatives through the long-term care insurance?”