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Quarterly Charge for Doctors' Visits Repealed

Germany's lower house of parliament (Bundestag) has unanimously voted to repeal the "medical practice fee" that requires adults who are insured by the nation's public health insurance system to pay a €10 charge for their first visit to the doctor in each calendar quarter. The fee, which was created in 2004 partly to discourage unnecessary visits to the doctor, goes into the public health insurance system and has netted nearly €2 billion per year. Public health insurers have been strong supporters of the €10 charge, whereas the German Medical Association and other doctors' organizations have opposed the fee, calling it a financial burden for lower-income patients and unnecessary bureaucracy for doctors. The recent surpluses reported by the public health insurance system were cited as further evidence that the fee should be revoked. With German federal elections next year and most of the public against the €10 charge, the repeal vote was successful and went into effect January 1.


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