This article presents a structured survey of the German health care and health insurance system, and analyzes major developments of current German health policy. The German statutory health insurance system has been known as a system that provides all citizens with ready access to comprehensive high quality medical care at a cost the country considered socially acceptable. However, an increasing concern for rapidly rising health care expenditure led to a number of cost-containment measures since 1977. The aim was to bring the growth of health care expenditure in line with the growth of wages and salaries of the sickness fund members. The recent health care reforms of 1989 and 1993 yielded only short-term reductions of health care expenditure, with increases in the subsequent years. `Stability of the contribution rate' is the uppermost political objective of current health care reform initiatives. Options under discussion include reductions in the benefit package and increases of patients' co-payments. The article concludes with the possible consequences of the 1997 health care reform of which the major part became effective 1 July 1997.
Health Policy – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 1998
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