About 73 million people or 90% of the population of Germany are a part of its statutory health insurance system. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has brought into effect some digital health reforms. This further support the maintaining of social distancing norms. The Digital Healthcare Act was passed by the parliament. It has sparked a debate on the breach of privacy of German residents.
Where It All Started
In April 2020, Jens Spahn, the German Minister of Health, officially launched the Health Innovation Hub (HIH). It promotes the digital transformation of the country’s healthcare system. This came on the heels of the Digital Health Reforms – German Digital Healthcare Act, which was passed by the parliament on 8 November 2019. Until 2018, remote consultations were not permitted in Germany. Some of the salient features of the new law include:
- Under the new legislation, doctors will be able to prescribe digital health apps to patients.
- To successfully operate, app providers will need to prove to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices that their apps can enhance patient care.
- Doctors will be allowed to receive online payments for providing online consultation to patients with statutory insurance.
- Medical Doctors will have the flexibility of providing more information about online video consultations on their websites.
- MDs can digitally prescribe medicine and get higher reimbursements for sending electronic medical letters instead of faxes.
- The new act also hints at bringing electronic health records (EHRs) for patients with statutory insurance by 2021.
The act permits using data from health insurance funds for research at university hospitals and other institutes without prior consent from the patient. Sensitive information such as patient age, gender, place of residence, health status, and treatments will be available to researchers. This data will be transmitted in pseudonymized form. It implies that it will be anonymized to prevent any possibility of tracing and identifying the real patient. However, patient advocates claim that the act doesn’t give any rights to patients to opt out of having their data shared.
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The importance of Health Insurance
DHA – Digital Healthcare Act
Germany is known to have one of the best and most comprehensive health care systems in the world. It offers its residents various healthcare insurance options that cover features such as sick pay and long-term nursing care.
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The new act has been hailed by many as a saviour amid a time when social distancing has become the new normal. More and more countries are embracing technology to upgrade their healthcare system. Several telemedicine platforms, bots, and IT systems will now allow patients to remotely get medical care. They enable efficient crisis management and accurate resource planning.
The new act will also help maintain electronic records. These can be used for future research and help report the current epidemiological situation in the country with higher accuracy. Access to such transparent and reliable information is not only important during emergencies. It is also critical for coordination and effective resource management in the healthcare system.
Health Insurance In Germany- Costs for Expats
Anyone living in Germany or visiting the country needs to have health insurance. When applying for a residence permit or visa, having health insurance documents is mandatory. Here is how students, expats, and self-employed people can get health insurance –
Health Insurance for Self-employed People
According to the new rules passed in 2019, self-employed people with income between 2,284 euros and 1,038 euros a month, now pay 50% lesser for health insurance compared to what they paid earlier. The premiums for self-employed low-income individuals now ranges from 160-190 euros a month.
Health Insurance for Students
As a student of a state-approved university or education institution, you’ll have to pay a premium of approx. 80 euros per month if you’re over 25 and don’t have any children. Students below the age of 25 can be covered for free under their family’s health insurance plan.
Once you turn 30, the premium increases by approx 50 euros per month. International students who cannot be part of the state health insurance or are not covered by their country’s health system can get temporary insurance for 25-30 euros per month.
Health Insurance for Foreign Visitors
Foreign visitors from outside the EU need to pay for healthcare services. If there are reciprocal agreements between Germany and their home country, foreign nationals may be eligible to claim state healthcare.
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