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German Patients Often Offered Low-Value Services Not Covered by Statutory Insurance

Country Correspondent: Michael Laxy

More than a quarter of people enrolled with AOK, one of Germany’s largest statutory insurers, are offered health services that aren’t covered because of their unproven clinical value, according to a study conducted by the insurer’s research arm. These so-called “individual health services” include potentially unnecessary screenings and alternative therapies such as ultrasounds, acupuncture, or leech therapies. Specialists tend to provide the services more readily than general practitioners do, and they are more often offered to higher-earning patients. Patients pay out of pocket anywhere from just a few euros to several hundred for each service.

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