The MedTech Europe blog

Germany to lower statutory health insurance tax

Ulla Schmidt
Ulla Schmidt

Germany’s minister of health, Ulla Schmidt announced today in the opening interview with public service journalist Karin P. Vanis that the contribution to Germany’s statutory health insurance will be lowered by .6 per cent as of the end of July this year to reduce the burden on tax payers in these economically trying times. The money to finance this lowered income for the German healthcare budget will be hedged by other parts of the state budget. Although one could be inclined to say that she is merely beating the drum for her party for the election in September I do believe it is an important signal. One could see this as a first step for Germany to consider investing in healthcare a strategic step for a government facing an ageing society that in little over 10 years will turn the current financing mechanisms upside down. The question that immediately springs to mind: Shouldn’t you rather invest in innovations and technologies that will yield results for people and economy than reshuffling budgets from one pocket into the other? Germany is clearly not the only society faced with an ageing society and it remains to be seen what approach other governments will pursue.

German the haven for innovations in Europe?

The interview with Ulla Schmidt also turned to a topic dear to the heart of Eucomed. Taking a detour in a rather boring discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the German healthcare system she made the somewhat bold statement that there is no innovation that has not been made available to the German patients through its statutory system. Aside from being made in a live discussion I am certain one could easily identify a lot of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations in Germany that are struggling to get their cost-effective innovations included in the German DRG catalogue. Moving deeper into the subject matter Schmidt did admit that only true innovations which demonstrate cost-effectiveness will be made available to patients. The gatekeeper and decision-maker in Germany is its health technology assessment agency IQWiG. In our “Policy debate I: What should define value?: Assessing Health Technology” during the MedTech Forum in October, Mike Drummond of York University will chair a discussion to further explore different stakeholders’ views on the effect of Health Technology Assessments on the quality of healthcare and the uptake of technologies and innovations. How are clinicians and patients affected? Is European health policy on the right track?

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