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New service point: appointment with a specialist within four weeks
In the summer, the Bundestag passed a law against long waiting times for a specialist appointment. In various federal states, health insurance companies and doctors have reacted to the problem of long waiting with different measures. For example, a central service point in Thuringia is supposed to arrange check-up patients' medical appointments within four weeks.
Law against long waiting times
A test last year showed that patients in Germany often have to wait five weeks before they can get an appointment with a specialist. Private patients generally don't have to wait as long. As Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe announced months ago, the federal government wants to put an end to the long waiting times for a specialist appointment with a corresponding law. The problem has already been reacted to in some federal states. Last year, the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV) and AOK Nordost announced that patients in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania could get faster specialist appointments with acute problems with the help of a special model. It has now been announced from Thuringia that improvements will also soon be made there.
Service point starts in January
A message from "mdr.de" shows that the Thuringian health doctors want to begin calling specialist appointments by telephone at the end of January. As a spokesman for the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV) announced, the service center is due to start work on January 25, 2016. This should arrange an appointment with a specialist within four weeks. A corresponding transfer from the family doctor is required. If the mediation does not work within the four-week period, the patients can contact a hospital.
Health insurance companies sometimes offer better conditions
The KV implements a legal requirement with the service. The Supply Strengthening Act passed by the Bundestag in the summer of this year stipulates that patients will be given appointments with specialists within a specified period. The legislator wanted to limit the waiting times of months, which are often months at the moment, especially for legally insured patients. The statutory health insurance associations must set up service points for this. At least for the beginning, a high demand is expected. However, it is uncertain how this will develop. According to the KV, the patients would not have the right to choose a specific medical practice within the statutory period. In addition, some health insurance companies would offer their policyholders a guaranteed appointment with specialists, some of them better terms, than provided for in the statutory provisions. (ad)