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Doctors prescribe strike in wage fight

The Local · 13 Sep 2012, 15:50

Published: 13 Sep 2012 15:50 GMT+02:00

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Around 75 percent of the doctors who voted were in favour of the strike, an alliance of doctors' associations announced on Thursday, increasing the pressure in an ongoing conflict with Germany's health insurers over fees.

Germany's 150,000 practice-based doctors and psychotherapist who work for statutory health insurers, represented by the KBV, has been locked in negotiations with the state insurers, the GKV, for weeks.

The KBV suspended all talks after the assessment committee decided to raise referrals by €270 million (0.9 percent increase) – the doctors want an increase of €3.5 billion (11 percent). The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Saturday.

Dirk Heinrich, spokesman for the doctors' alliance, said the high turnout for the vote showed the extent of dissatisfaction among Germany's doctors. "That is unique so far," he said. "The minimal increase of 0.9 percent, forced through by the insurers, was a declaration against the doctors," and "a devastating signal to the next generation of doctors."

He said the doctors needed the extra fees to cover increased costs of running practices, "not so that doctors can buy themselves a new car."

Klaus Reinhardt, chairman of the Hartmannbund, a doctors' professional association, added that it was now up to the insurers to "cut the knot."

GKV spokesman Florian Lanz countered that only one in four doctors had actually voted for the strike, and that the insurers had "no understanding for the announced practice closures." He added that after practice costs, doctors earned an average of €160,000 a year before tax.

"We call on the various doctors' associations not to carry out the debate on the backs' of patients," Lanz said.

Story continues below…

The Local/DAPD/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:31 September 13, 2012 by zeddriver
Welcome to socialized medicine. Where a person can go through a 4 year collage. Then go on to 4-6 more years of med school. Then several years of internship. And after all that work & expense be told by a government run agency how much you are allowed to make.
17:29 September 13, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Not just being told by a government run agency how much they are allowed to make but also being told what medicen to prescribe in order to keep the overpriced German pharmaceutical industry prosperous. Doctors hands are totall tied and after all their years of hard work and study they end up promoting the pharmaceutical industrys needless drugs and handing out sick notes.
19:37 September 13, 2012 by DoubleDTown
@zeddriver: the thing is, Geman doctors have to go through a lot of training, but unlike medical students in the U.S. they don't have to put their own capital into it. Plus they get BAEFOG (sp?) to pay for living expenses. Given that, perhaps EUR 160k per year isn't so bad after all.

I wish I hadn't paid for my education. If only I'd put all those tens of thousands of dollars into the stock market back in the 1980s insead of handing it over to institutes of higher learning -- I'd be done working by now. Of course, I couldn't had raised all those funds with federal & state-backed loans if I was going to put them into the stock market. But the point is, the German doctors didn't really pay their own way.

However, it is true that if they don't earn enough to make the years of study pay off better than being an auto mechanic with a couple of employees then it's frustrating for the doctors.
10:50 September 14, 2012 by Morseman

You haven't understood the system at all. This is social insurance, and there has to be a tariff for fees. A doctor who doesn't accept the tariff is at liberty to accept private patients only. They will either pay the fees he demands, or their private insurance will pay at least part.

There are some doctors who accept private patients only, but they either have private wealth or have become so successful and in demand that they can do without the social insurance.
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