Answers to the electronic health card

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Questions and answers about the health card

From 1. Already now, around 95 percent of the insured have the new chip card, with which not only master data but also further information, for example on prescribed medications or allergies, could be stored in the future. The insurers themselves decide whether the health insurers will introduce the additional functions for their insureds. Critics especially point out the immense costs that the introduction of the new card has already caused. So far, 728 million euros are said to have been invested in the new chip card. It remains to be seen whether the electronic health card will actually add value for the insured in the future.

What data is stored on the electronic health card? In 2003, the red-green government under Gerhard Schröder decided to modernize the statutory health insurance and thus to end the old insurance card. The first electronic health cards were issued in 2011, although the old cards remained valid. But that will be the end of 2014. Then only the new chip card with photo of the insured person is valid.

However, many insured are unsettled by numerous media reports about the health card. The question of data storage is of particular concern. As on the old insurance card, only the master data is saved on the new electronic health card: name, address and gender. This data can be updated easily so that no new card has to be issued after a move. The health insurance number, the insured person's status and the copayment status are also saved on the chip card. Also new is the photo of the insured, which should protect against misuse of the card. Doctors can use the photo to verify the insured person's identity. Children under the age of 15 and people who cannot take part in the creation of the photo are exempt from the photo obligation.

Another advantage of the electronic health card is that the health insurance companies can have the European health insurance card printed on the back of the card, which makes the bureaucratic effort of medical treatment abroad easier.

In addition, the chip card is intended to facilitate a better exchange of doctors among themselves. For example, MRI scans could be transmitted more quickly and easily by specialist and general practitioners.

In the future, it will also be possible to store emergency data such as drug documentation, blood types, allergies and the willingness to donate organs on the electronic health card. However, each insurer can decide for themselves whether these additional options will be introduced. Voluntary information should also be erasable.

Is data storage on the electronic health card secure? As reported by the umbrella organization of statutory health and long-term care insurance companies in Germany (GKV), the electronic health card complies with the requirements of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. In addition, the BSI checks the encryption of the data at least once a year, according to the GKV. Adjustments would then be made if necessary. "The BSI currently assumes that the current eGK will be used safely until at least 2018. In order to maintain a consistently high level of security, a new generation of electronic health cards is currently under development. This uses a different type of encryption technology and will replace the current generation of eGK fluently by 2018, ”says a message from the GKV.

In addition, a "security lock" was placed on the card. The patient and doctor must enter a PIN to make the voluntary data readable. Both the health card and the doctor's health professional card must be in the card reader. Only then can the data be read.

Which criticisms are discussed in connection with the electronic health card? The introduction of the electronic health card has already cost around 728 million euros and - as critics say - has no real benefit for the insured. There is also criticism for the new chip card from medical circles. According to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), there is not much left of the original idea of ​​using the card to improve communication between doctor and patient. Rather, a till-centered telematics infrastructure was created, among other things, for the insurance master data management.

The security of data storage is also criticized by data protectors. The "Stop the e-Card" campaign, which is supported by the Bavarian Medical Association, among other things, sees the key to "data retention in the healthcare system" in the electronic health card. Despite numerous criticisms, the new chip card cannot be boycotted. From 2014, all health insurers must have equipped their insured with the new card. (ag)

Image: Andreas Morlok /

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