Scrapping fee sends more to dentists
More people in Germany have been going to the dentist since the government abolished the €10 appointment fee earlier this year, figures released on Tuesday revealed.
The number of dental patients rose in the first three months of 2013 by 2.6 percent, to 20.7 million. In the next three months, this rose further to 21.8 million patients – 5.8 percent more than during the same period of 2012.
Between 2004 and 2012, going to a doctor or dentist appointment in Germany meant paying a €10 fee. If a patient visited more than once in a three-month period, they only had to pay once.
But this was scrapped at the start of this year after the government decided that because state health insurance companies were so financially healthy they could do without the fee.
Patients tend not to change dentists very often so charging them the appointment fee was just putting them off having preventative check-ups, said Jürgen Fedderwitz – head of the federal association of dentists working for state insurers (KZBV) which published the figures on Tuesday.
After the fee was introduced nearly a decade ago, the number of people visiting dentists dropped by 10 percent. “This negative effect is now, thankfully, gone,” said Fedderwitz. He added that the chance for lifelong, uninterrupted prevention had risen.
As Germany's leading parties try to strike a new coalition deal to form a government, talk has turned to federal health insurers. It is believed that they could slip back into debt again by 2015.
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