Statutory health insurance in Germany: a health system shaped by 135 years of solidarity, self-governance, and competition

by Reinhard Busse, Miriam Blümel, Franz Knieps et al.
The Lancet – Published Online July 3, 2017

16 pp. 765 kB
http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)31280-1.pdf

Bismarck’s Health Insurance Act of 1883 established the first social health insurance system in the world. The German statutory health insurance system was built on the defining principles of solidarity and self-governance, and these principles have remained at the core of its continuous development for 135 years. A gradual expansion of population and benefits coverage has led to what is, in 2017, universal health coverage with a generous benefits package. The German health insurance system is not as cost-effective as in some of Germany’s neighbouring countries, which, given present expenditure levels, indicates a need to improve efficiency and value for patients.

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