The rising cost of healthcare in Europe was put into focus when the German parliament passed healthcare reform to overhaul the country's cash strapped mandatory health insurance scheme and plug a threatened 11-billion-euro shortfall in the public health system for 2011.
Germany's highly regarded health system covers 72 million people via state health insurance and 8.5 million via private schemes. Mandatory health insurance contributions will require an equal split between employers and employees in Germany, with the contribution increasing by 0.6 percent from 14.9 percent to 15.5 percent of gross wages; the increase being from January 2011. Any future increases in mandatory contributions will be borne solely by employers. The reform in German health law is seen as a fair way to maintain the high standards of the Germany public healthcare system faced with an aging population and a shrinking German work force. The Federal Ministry of Health
’s network includes 2,200 hospitals and 300,000 doctors, with the German healthcare system responsible for 4.3 million of the country’s total workforce.
The overhaul is seen as vital for Germany to stem increasing costs associated with its public healthcare system. The German public healthcare system is one of the most expensive in the world. Germany, like other western countries including the United Kingdom and the USA, has taken steps to undertake radical reforms in their healthcare systems to meet changing circumstances and rising healthcare costs. The German healthcare system is noted for the high standards of medical care provided.
Health insurance in Germany is not one state pool, but a collection of large and small private health funds that administer the scheme, and there is no price competition. Two of the largest health funds have dabbled in medical tourism for ancillary care such as spa and dental treatment, both covered by health insurance, but only in a few neighbouring countries. Germany is very pro-Europe, so it is highly unlikely that they would consider treatment outside of Europe, and almost certainly would not consider surgery outside of Germany. The reform aims for more competition among the health insurance funds to maintain diversity and increase efficiency and quality in health care provision; so some may want to compete by offering treatment in other countries for ancillary services.
The health system may seek to increase income from inbound medical tourism. Although they cannot compete on price with Asia, Germany is probably the advanced nation in the world on healthcare technology and treatment.