More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Germany Wants Disease Management Programs Implemented Early

HAMBURG (Reuters Health) Jul 31 - German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said Monday that plans to launch national disease management programmes for chronic diseases, which form the first stage in a wider plan of health insurance reforms, would be accelerated.

Legislation to support the implementation of the programmes will be pushed forward in the federal parliament to ensure that the first of the schemes will be up and running by July 1, 2002, rather than on January 1, 2003, as planned, Schmidt said in a news conference.

The programmes the government proposes would deliver more systematic and coordinated diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of the effects of chronic diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Health insurance companies are expected to encourage the programmes, as they will reduce costs by removing the potential for repeated and unnecessary examinations or treatments.

Schmidt said the programs could deliver big savings, although she emphasised that the programmes are about more than money. "Patients' quality of life will improve with these structured programmes of treatment," she said. "We are able make the connection between quality and economy with these programmes."

In the longer term, the government has proposed to restructure its system of payments to health insurers. By 2007 funds will be available to help offset the high treatment costs associated with chronic illnesses. The change should allow chronic disease patients a wider choice of insurance companies, which will produce a more competitive market, Schmidt said.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd