The new Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU) is full of energy. First he told lawyers insured shorter waiting times at the doctor. Now he wants to make the quality of clinics and practices better comparable. That’s all very well. But actually Gröhe faces bigger challenges.
As new Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe leaves little time for big announcements. Already a few days ago, the CDU politician spoke out in favor of improvements in the statutory health insurance. Monthly waiting times at the doctor are not acceptable for him. Compared to the Focus, he therefore announced to improve the supply and service for the legally insured. With the help of service centers, they should be given an appointment with the specialist or for outpatient hospital treatment within four weeks. With a new quality institute Gröhe now wants to “strengthen the quality in health care,” he said in Berlin.
New institute should examine treatment success
This quality makes Gröhe the “decisive criterion for outpatient and inpatient care in this country,” he said in his first official speech as the new Minister of Health. With the help of the new institute, it is planned that consumers will be able to view and compare the treatment success of hospitals online in the future. The new facility evaluates all patient data on treatment success or problems. If clinics fail due to poor quality, this should be punished with discounts on financing.
Gröhe wants to implement coalition agreements quickly
Gröhe also announced that it would swiftly implement the agreements from the coalition agreement. This concerns, for example, the increase in contributions for the statutory long-term care insurance by 1 January 2015 at the latest. This should not only improve benefits, but also mitigate future increases in contributions. Due to the demographic change, it is expected that fewer and fewer contributors will have to pay for more people in need of care. In addition, the introduction of a new need for long-term care represents another major challenge for the new Minister.
Challenges in nursing and health insurance
Demographic change also has an impact on statutory health insurance (SHI). Here too, the growing number of retirees faces fewer and fewer contributors. Experts have long been criticizing the fact that GKV financing has not been secured in the long term. The new black-red government is now planning to introduce a new, income-related additional contribution. Whether the problem is solved with him, however, remains questionable. A comprehensive reform of statutory health insurance seems inevitable.
Challenges in private health insurance
Also in the private health insurance (PKV) Gröhe is expected a lot. To be sure, the coalition agreement excludes this area. However, Timm Genett from the private health insurance association hopes for a change. “I am convinced that the new Minister of Health will also make changes in private health insurance,” the insurance journal quotes. Conceivable, for example, improvements in the change of private health insurance. PKV head of association Uwe Laue had suggested lowering the income threshold to make it easier for workers to change jobs. Another possibility is the better taking of the so-called old-age provisions. If insured persons change their insurer, they usually lose part of the provisions. They build on their PKV contributions in order to dampen future increases in contributions in old age. So far, the change is equivalent to a financial loss transaction and is therefore rarely attractive for insured.
Shorter waiting times and quality institute only minor improvements
Given these challenges, which also go beyond the agreements of the Coalition Agreement, Grohe’s current efforts can only be considered as small steps. Although shorter waiting times for GKV members and new ways of comparing the quality of practices and clinics are not unimportant. It should be more important, however, for example, to make the statutory care and health insurance demographically.