Long waiting times for specialist appointments

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Privately insured people get it faster: Long waiting times for specialist appointments

Many patients in Germany have to wait longer than three weeks for an appointment with a specialist. This is less common in the West than in the East, and private insurers are preferred.

Abolition of the practice fee The abolition of the practice fee at the beginning of the year did not lead to the feared rush to medical practices. As Andreas Köhler, head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), reported in Berlin that the number of treatment cases in outpatient care rose by 4.5 percent in the first three months, but more likely because of a flu episode. After the fee was abolished, the number of referrals to a specialist dropped by about a fifth, with specialist treatment only declining by 0.7 percent even in the first quarter. The reason for this may be that patients had to pay the practice fee again if they came without a referral.

Longer waiting times in the east According to a survey of more than 6,000 health insured members of the research group elections for the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), patients in the east have to wait longer on average for an appointment with a specialist than in the west. 14 percent of the insured in the East had to wait more than three weeks, compared to only 9 percent of the Westerners who had to wait that long. However, the doctor was able to speak on both sides for about a third without waiting.

Privately insured people get there faster The differences between privately and legally insured people are stated in the KBV report (""): "The type of health insurance - even with practically no changes in detail - clearly makes a difference when it comes to appointments: privately insured women and citizens tend to get to the train faster than the members of the statutory health insurers. ”For example, around 11 percent of the health insurance patients had to wait more than three weeks, and only four percent of the privately insured.

Acute cases are treated immediately. Of the respondents, 85 percent stated that they had been to the doctor at least once in the past year, around a third were three to five times and around 20 percent said six to ten times. Five percent have more than 20 visits. About a third said that they had to wait longer than three days for an appointment, but Köhler emphasized: "Almost half of the citizens can go to the doctor immediately - without waiting." Michaela Schwabe from the Independent Patient Advice Service Germany (UPD) explained: " In the case of acute, serious illnesses, a doctor cannot refuse you. "If, for example, a patient with a high fever comes to the practice, he will be treated immediately." If it is just a flu-like infection with a runny nose and cough, the patient may be will be put off for the next day when the practice is very full. "

High level of satisfaction More than three quarters of those questioned had no problem finding a general practitioner, but only 56 percent said that there were also enough specialists nearby. Generally, 92 percent felt they were in good hands, and only four percent were dissatisfied. According to KBV boss Köhler, the level of satisfaction has been at this high level since the first survey in 2006. It is also positive that three quarters of the patients do not have to wait more than 30 minutes for their turn at the consultation. (ad)

Image: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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