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Union and FDP have been pushing the statutory health insurance companies to pay premiums to the insured for weeks. While the Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV) refuses a general payment of the billions of surpluses, the regional Hanseatic Health Insurance Fund (HEK) has announced that it will reimburse its members for the practice fee for dental visits.
"The HEK is the first health insurance company to de facto abolish the practice fees for visits to the dentist," announced a spokesman for the HEK. The reimbursement should apply retrospectively from January 1, 2012 and includes the "legally required fee as part of the HEK bonus program."
After payment of the practice fee, reimbursement by the cash register
Because it is required by law, every insured person must pay a practice fee of 10 euros per quarter when visiting the dentist. This continues to apply to those insured with HEK. After payment has been made to the dental practice, the insured can send the practice fee receipt to the HEK by post. However, the fee will only be reimbursed if a dental bonus book is kept by the patient. A copy of the bonus booklet must also be sent. "The practice fee will then be transferred to the account immediately." And that "even retrospectively for the whole of 2012." The HEK is the only fund in Germany that "practically abolished the practice fee when visiting the dentist", as a cash register spokesman emphasized. Around 400,000 insured are eligible for reimbursement. According to the cash register, the HEK thus waives around 2.5 million euros in revenue per year.
Refund through free additional services
Many health insurance companies want to use the surpluses to better present themselves on the health insurance market. The Siemens company health insurance company (SBK) recently announced that it will now reimburse treatments for an osteopath for up to 30 euros per session. The Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), on the other hand, wants to check a premium distribution to the insured who are liable to pay contributions. The DAK subsidizes osteopathy for children and the AOK Plus wants to offer additional benefits such as homeopathy for its members from September.
Federal Insurance Office calls for review
The health insurers are forced to move, after all, in addition to the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Insurance Office also asked the health insurers to check the payment of the surpluses. This could be done in cash benefits but also in additional health benefits. The health insurance companies can only cover a legally prescribed maximum amount. Amounts beyond this must flow back to the contributors. Health Minister Daniel Bahr, meanwhile, is in favor of a general abolition of the abolition of practice fees.
However, it is a complex act to get the costs back from the HEK. Every year, the insured must take part in the annual dental check-ups, as a spokesman emphasized. In addition, the program is only intended for visits to the dentist. Accordingly, HEK patients must continue to pay a regular practice fee to their doctor or specialist without repayment.
The umbrella organization of health insurers emphasized that the reserves made sense, since a significant weakening of the economy in Germany can be expected. Health economists assume that within one to two years some health insurance companies will have to collect additional contributions. (sb)
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