Is the number of doctor visits actually falling?

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Statistics: Do Germans only go to the doctor ten times a year?

If patients have had to wait a long time for an appointment with the doctor in crowded waiting rooms, the news seems doubtful that doctor visits in Germany are declining. However, this is the analysis that is obtained from statistics.

Allegedly fewer visits to the doctor The "Bild" newspaper reported today: "The number of visits to the doctor is falling!" On average, citizens in Germany had visited the doctor ten times a year, compared with 13 in 1995. The report was triggered by data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), which is located at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). According to the "picture", the specialists at DIW speak of a "significant decline", which is due, among other things, to better preventive care, for example with dentists. In addition, visits to the doctor would be eliminated because, unlike in previous years, patients have to pay for numerous medications themselves. On closer inspection, the apparently convincing results lose some of their information content. Because: it is not a study of doctor visits. Rather, the data come from a long-term study with several different focuses. To this end, more than 20,000 people are surveyed every year on behalf of the DIW on topics such as education, income, employment, living situation and health.

Questionable methods Of the almost 150 pages on the long-term examination, the data on the number of visits to the doctor take up only one page. ("") This includes the number of visits to the doctor over the past three months by persons over the age of 17. But it is not clear which months they are. A DIW employee confirmed to the online magazine "The data are collected in the first half of the year, you cannot say which three months are recorded in the individual years." However, this would be very important information, since For example, in the so-called flu months, there are likely to be many more visits to the doctor. In addition, the three-month data for the news article was simply taken four times to get the annual number of doctor visits. This is an extremely questionable method and should be viewed critically.

No new trend recognizable The data of the socio-economic panel show no new trend, rather the values ​​fluctuate only slightly. The number of average visits to the doctor in the last three months in 2004 was 2.52. Since then the number has fluctuated slightly around this value and is currently at 2.49. The data were surprising, however, and Germans were more likely to go to the doctor very often. In its 2010 doctor report, the Barmer GEK reported that insureds visited an average doctor 18.1 times a year in 2008 in 2008, compared to only 16.4 doctor visits per person in 2004.

Health insurance data or DIW statistics, which numbers are correct? The question arises, which numbers are correct and how are the differences? The DIW reads: "The truth is somewhere in between". It also matters what counts as doctor contact and how it is recorded. The study participants who were interviewed on behalf of the DIW had to answer the general question of how often They were at the doctor. "The number could therefore tend to be underestimated," said the DIW. The sometimes significantly higher values ​​that the health insurance companies come to can also be explained by the fact that they relate specifically to the statements of the health insurance companies. The chairman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Andres Köhler, told the AF news agency that patients in Germany now actually go to the doctor significantly less. From the number of doctor visits in general, it is also difficult to do something about the visits per citizen. This had only recently been addressed in a report by the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance in Germany. It said that around 16 percent of the insured claimed about half of all doctor contacts. These patients, often with chronic conditions or a serious illness, such as cancer or diabetes, contribute to an increase in the statistics. (ad)

Also read:
Germans go to the doctor ten times a year
Health status of Germans worsened
Poor people cannot pay for visits to the doctor
Women are smarter than men

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