Health insurance patients wait longer for doctor's appointments

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Legally insured persons have to wait longer for medical appointments

What most legally insured persons, who are desperately trying to get an appointment with a specialist, had been aware of for a long time has now been confirmed by a recent study by the Mannheim Research Group on behalf of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV). Those who have statutory health insurance have to wait significantly longer for a doctor's appointment than members of private health insurance (PKV). In the doctors' surgeries, too, the legally insured have to wait significantly longer before they are called up than the PKV patients, according to the latest survey.

More than a fifth of those insured under statutory health insurance (22 percent) wait several weeks for a doctor's appointment, whereas only four percent of PKV patients have to wait longer than three weeks for an appointment with a specialist, reports the “Stern” about the results of the current survey. Orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, internists and the like, who often state that they have no capacity for a timely appointment compared to those insured under statutory health insurance, seem to set significantly different standards for the privately insured. Obviously, there is still a free appointment for them much more often. 32 percent of the statutory and 38 percent of the privately insured were treated without waiting.

Legally insured people wait significantly longer for doctor's appointments. The question of health insurance is usually at the beginning of the conversation when calling the specialist doctor's office and also seems to serve to prioritize appointments. There is no other way of explaining that around one in five legally insured persons have to wait weeks for an appointment, but private patients usually get an appointment promptly. According to the results of the current study, patients are apparently divided into two classes, not only when making appointments, but also in practice. Because while in practice almost a third (27 percent) of the till patients have to wait longer than half an hour and nine percent even wait longer than an hour, only 14 percent of the private patients sat in the waiting room for longer than half an hour. In the current study, the Mannheim research group elected on behalf of the KBV in September 2011 to question a total of 2,048 randomly selected citizens in Germany about their experiences with the doctor.

Satisfaction with the doctors is not affected by the waiting times The study by the Mannheim research group Wahlen confirms what critics have been saying for a long time and most of the legally insured have experienced when trying to get a specialist appointment: Regarding the appointment and the waiting times in the Doctors' offices are a two-tier society in Germany. However, according to the latest survey, there are no comparable differences in terms of the quality of treatment. Regardless of their health insurance, 92 percent of those surveyed were convinced of the specialist skills of the doctors and 91 percent said they had a good to very good relationship of trust with their doctor. Accordingly, trust in doctors apparently does not suffer from the questionable practice when appointing appointments.

Questionable trend in individual health services However, the results of the current survey make it clear that there are grievances in dealing with statutory insured patients when making appointments. The CEO of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Dr. Andreas Köhler that, in some cases, the legally insured must clearly wait too long. At the same time, Dr. Köhler that almost half of those insured by law are treated immediately and that many of them also visit the practices without appointments. For the CEO of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, it is not the practice of appointing appointments, but rather the trend towards individual health services (IGeL), which becomes clear in comparison to previous surveys, that is a cause for concern. For example, “the proportion of insured who received an IGeL from a doctor increased from 22 percent in 2008 to 24 percent”, with the insured increasingly concerned about what they considered to be too short a time to accept such an offer , complain. "I would like to appeal to my colleagues to deal sensitively with the IGeL topic," emphasized Dr. Charcoal burner. Doctors should not carelessly jeopardize patients' trust, warned the CEO of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. (fp)

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Gerd Altmann / Gerold Meiners /

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