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German government reaches deal on health care

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German government reaches deal on health care


Germany’s government has agreed on the main elements of a reform programme to overhaul the country’s creaking healthcare system. After nine hours of talks, the left-right ruling coalition reached a deal whereby health contributions paid by employees and workers will rise by about half a percentage point.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the changes as a major breakthrough although experts say they are modest. The plan foresees the introduction of a healthcare fund which would pool contributions by workers and employees.

In addition, free health care for children is to be financed through taxation. In 2008, 1.5 billion euros of revenue will go to children’s healthcare. By 2009 the figure will double. Contribution to Germany’s health system has been steadily shrinking due to an ageing population and low birth rate. For many experts the reforms will not be sufficient to relieve the strain.

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