International report: Current state and development of health insurance and emergency medicine in Germany. The influence of health insurance laws on the practice of emergency medicine in a European country

Elke Platz, Tareg Bey, Frank G. Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Germany has a comprehensive health insurance system, with only 0.183% of the population being uninsured. Access to office-based medicine and to hospitals is easy and convenient. Due to enormous financial pressures, Germany is currently decreasing the number of beds in hospitals, introducing the Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG), and restricting accessibility to specialists. In contrast to Anglo-American countries, Germany follows the concept of bringing the physician to the patient in the prehospital setting, with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) physicians responding to all Advanced Life Support (ALS) calls. Despite a mature EMS system with sophisticated medical equipment and technology, both in the prehospital and hospital setting, logistical issues such as a single emergency telephone number or multidisciplinary Emergency Departments have yet to be established. Within the hospital, this "Franco-German model" considers Emergency Medicine a practice model that does not merit specialty status. Spending restrictions in the health care system, with less access to hospital beds and office-based physicians, will increase the demand for hospital-based emergency care when patients experience problems accessing the medical system. Currently, the German hospital system is unprepared to care for greater numbers of emergency patients. This may call for changes in the German health care system as well as the medical education system, with the introduction of hospital-based Emergency Medicine as its own specialty, similar to Anglo-American countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2003

Keywords

  • Germany
  • Health care finances
  • Health insurance laws
  • International Emergency Medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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