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Conflicting Rules and Incentives for Health Promotion and Prevention in the German Statutory Health Insurance (GKV)

Conflicting Rules and Incentives for Health Promotion and Prevention in the German Statutory Health Insurance (GKV)

Gesundheitswesen ) 77(6): 397-404

This study examines what role the German statutory health insurance (GKV) has in health promotion and prevention, if regulations and incentives are consistent, and if the politically-intended strengthening of prevention has been achieved. We compiled the regulations and incentives of the German Sozialgesetzbuch V as the legal basis for health promotion and prevention of the GKV and studied their effects and interactions. Using annual financial reports of GKV we determined how the spending in prevention overall and in specific fields of prevention has -developed. The responsibilities of the GKV in health promotion and prevention lack a clear scientific foundation. Regulations have been incrementally added following changing ideas in prevention and health promotion policies. Currently, different norms and a variety of incentives lead to inconsistent and conflicting aims. Only 2% of all expenditures of the GKV are for health promotion and prevention, mainly spent for medical measures like preventive medical check-ups or vaccination. While spending of the GKV in general is rising, expenditures for prevention have decreased since 2009. There is a need to harmonise the different regulations in health promotion and prevention and to correct currently inconsistent incentives in the GKV. Given the similar evidence base there seems to be no reason why responsibilities for health promotion and primary, secondary or tertiary prevention should be regulated by different normative constructs. Incentives should account for the different aims of health insurers and their members. Financial incentives to increase spending in prevention may be particularly effective when there is no short-term -financial interest for the health insurer.

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Accession: 052291888

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PMID: 25111361

DOI: 10.1055/s-0034-1384562

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