Germany’s ruling coalition partners have reached a deal on healthcare reform – a crucial element of the Chancellor’s political agenda and widely seen as being vital for her government’s survival. Presenting the accord, Angela Merkel said: “the measures agreed will improve the health system, by offering patients more choice and greater transparency.”
“It will also be better financed by way of competition,” she added. However the head of the Christian Social Union, Edmund Stoiber, who is also prime minister of Bavaria, was more cautious amid concerns it could inflict greater costs on his state, one of Germany’s richest. Germany’s healthcare system is one of the most expensive in the world, costing the government around 140 billion euros a year.
Only Switzerland and the US spend more. The reforms due to be introduced next April aim at simplifying Germany’s complex healthcare system and evening out disparities between states. Faced with an ageing population and the rising cost of treatment, Germany has seen its health costs rise massively in the past years. The urgently-needed reform has threatened to de-rail the 11-month old grand coalition led by Merkel whose Christian Democrats are at a 16-year low in the polls.
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