Poor people cannot pay for visits to the doctor

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More and more people cannot pay for visits to the doctor

The costs of practice fees and additional payments for medicines and remedies keep many people from going to the doctor. Those affected often simply cannot afford the necessary visits to the doctor and are therefore looking for help with social projects that offer free medical care, according to the result of an accompanying study on a corresponding project in Hanover.

Always people in Germany cannot afford the necessary doctor's visits and medical treatments. According to the chair of the Hanover district office, Cornelia Goesmann, practice fees and additional payments are the reason why more and more people are visiting the free medical consultation originally set up for the homeless. Goesmann refers to an accompanying study that is unique in Germany and has been evaluating the patient treatments of a social project in Hanover for ten years.

Social project offers free medical examinations The social project of free medical consultations was originally set up in 1999 in Hanover for the homeless. In the meantime, however, people who do not live on the street are also always looking for support for the project, which is supported by Caritas and Diakonie, among other things, according to the result of an accompanying study that has been running in Hanover for ten years. The reason for this are the costs of practice fees and additional payments, explained Cornelia Goesmann. In view of the results of the study, the chairperson of the Hannover Chamber of Physicians' District Office asked for a general abolition of the practice fees as well as a free payment of the remedies and medicines to the needy. Today, 60 percent of the free medical consultation patients live in their own apartment and 30 percent live in homes for the homeless, but their financial means do not allow them to go to the doctor or purchase the necessary medication, according to the study. Only six percent of the patients who were cared for by volunteer doctors and nurses last year as part of the project originally set up for the homeless actually lived on the street.

900 patients a year with free medical consultations in Hanover The accompanying study of the social project, created by the Center for Quality and Management in Health Care (ZQ), evaluated around 16,000 free medical treatments, whereby the number of patients has increased by about 50 percent since 2000. In the past few years, an average of around 900 patients have been cared for annually by the volunteers of the social project. The patients' complaints have changed significantly over the years, the experts report. While skin diseases and injuries were predominant in the beginning, more than 50 percent of the free consultation hours now reveal mental illnesses or addiction problems for patients. The volunteer doctors are making an urgent effort to transfer them to a regular practice, but it is difficult to determine whether this will be successful based on the study results available. According to Cornelia Goesmann, however, there are some indications that "the so-called poor population can no longer afford the normal doctor's visit". It is therefore questionable whether the patients went to a regular practice after attending the free medical consultation. According to the experts, those affected are simply overwhelmed financially by the due practice fees and co-payments for medicines and remedies.

Abolition of the practice fee and the additional payments required Comparable projects like those in Hanover are running in numerous German cities, but the scientific investigation through a ten-year accompanying study is unique in this country, explained the chairwoman of the Hannover Chamber of Physicians. The Lower Saxony state capital "has become a hub on the east-west axis", causing "incredibly many people" to be stranded here, Goesmann continues. Since a large number of these people are "not insured" and "not medically cared for", many of them start the free medical consultations, the expert explained. Currently, however, an increasing number of old women have visited the treatment mobile, which stops at the various daytime meetings for the homeless, reports the chairwoman of the Hannover Chamber of Physicians and initiator of the project. Goesmann was equally worried and outraged. Because the women are “no longer able to finance their medication”, but actually the “welfare state should say that we don't need that”, criticized the expert and therefore called for the practice fee to be abolished and also remedies or medication to be given to poor people for free. (fp)

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Image: Maren Beßler / pixelio.de

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