Health Minister postpones doctor reform



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Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler postpones doctor reform

According to the Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler, the new billing system for doctors should be made binding at the end of the year at the earliest. The new so-called "outpatient coding guidelines", which should have been in effect since the beginning of the year, will therefore not be implemented for the time being.

The Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler (FDP) has responded to criticism from family doctor associations and statutory health insurance associations (KVen) and has decided not to implement the planned changes in the billing system for doctors for the time being. Due to the adapted specifications of the "outpatient coding guidelines", doctors should be billed more precisely and more economically to the statutory health insurers.

Reform of the billing system for medical services The changes to the billing system for doctors were developed last year by the Evaluation Committee, a body in the statutory health insurance system (GKV), made up of representatives of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) and the GKV umbrella association, and should have been in effect from January 2011 apply. However, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds and the KBV had agreed on a transition phase until June 30, 2011 in order to give doctors enough time to switch to the new, more detailed billing system. Because the new coding guidelines oblige outpatients and therapists to provide health insurance companies with much more precise information on their diagnoses in the future. Critical medical associations fear that if many doctors are already having trouble coding, they may simply be overwhelmed.

Criticism of bureaucratic additional work and data protection concerns The reform of the accounting system should create the conditions for paying doctors and therapists more fairly. Thanks to the detailed information on the diseases of their patients, various clinical pictures can be evaluated more precisely and the medical remuneration can be adjusted according to the treatment effort, so the evaluation committee hopes after the new coding guidelines have been drawn up. However, numerous medical associations were critical from the start. They feared significantly more bureaucracy and raised concerns about data protection. The critical general practitioner associations and statutory health insurance associations also doubted that the billing of medical services would be fairer due to the new system. The Federal Minister of Health has now responded to the massive criticism and postponed the introduction of the new coding guidelines until further notice. The billing system reform will come into force at the earliest at the end of the year in order to give "all partners involved time" to "significantly simplify everyday use", the Federal Ministry of Health announced.

Coding guidelines for fairer billing of medical services The Federal Minister of Health justified the renewed postponement of the new coding guidelines in a letter to those involved because the coalition government wants to reform the medical sector with a healthcare law this year anyway. However, the Federal Ministry of Health continues to support the introduction of the new coding guidelines because they "ensure correct and unambiguous diagnostic coding", said a spokesman for the ministry. "This is the basic prerequisite for ensuring that the health of the insured can be taken into account when distributing the funds in statutory health insurance," the ministry spokesman continued. A fair billing of their services is also a declared goal for doctors, but the detailed requirements for coding already entail considerable additional workload in everyday practice. Thus, the criticism of the medical associations about the planned, even more precise requirements for the settlement of diseases and corresponding medical treatments is also understandable from the point of view of the workload. (fp)

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Image: Karin Jähne / pixelio.de

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