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Waiting Time Legislation Introduced

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats introduced a resolution to limit wait times for doctor appointments to three weeks for patients with public health insurance, and to require public health insurers (Sickness Funds) and doctors’ associations to be responsible for carrying out these conditions. That proposal was rejected by German Health Minister Philipp Rösler on the grounds that problems associated with long wait times would not fixed by the proposed law. Citing a shortage of doctors, Minister Rösler emphasized a critical need to focus on an adequate physician supply to treat patients.

A September 2010 study conducted by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians stated that Germany’s lack of doctors is an “urgent threat,” especially in rural regions. It found that the average age of doctors in 2009 was approximately 52 years, and that there are not enough younger doctors to adequately meet demand.

The Physician Association has been campaigning to recruit more doctors and is aiming to resolve shortage problems within the next two years.


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