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Doctor report: Why patients in Germany go to the doctor
The Barmer GEK presented the new doctor report 2011. It follows that the Germans go to the doctor more and more often. Expenditures in the healthcare system are increasing, primarily because costly diagnostic procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) are being prescribed.
Germans are going to the doctor more and more often. Experts see this not only as a sign of sensitization to possible diseases, but also as an increasing burden on people as a result of the increasingly rapid work environment. About 93 percent of Germans go to the doctor at least once a year. The most common reasons to see a doctor are back pain and high blood pressure. Both symptoms occur primarily in the western industrial world and are number one and two of the most common reasons for visiting a doctor. For the medical report 2011 of the statutory health insurance company Barmer GEK, the patient data of over eight million people were evaluated. The study data showed that around 41 percent of Germans can be treated up to four times in different medical practices. Around 1.2 percent of the insured even see a doctor more than ten times a year.
The most common causes of a doctor's visit
Disorders such as back pain (24.1 percent) and high blood pressure (25.7) are the most common causes of treatment by a doctor. The ranking list is followed by fat metabolism disorders (18.6 percent), respiratory infections (18.5 percent) and abdominal pain with 9.9 percent. Psychological and mental suffering has also increased significantly. Around 9.4 percent of the patients treated for depression and 4.5 percent for sleep disorders. The widespread diabetes type II ranks among the top 10 most frequent visits to the doctor with 6.9 percent and is in 9th position 4.1 percent. The medical report also reflects that the Germans are becoming increasingly overweight. About 9.4 percent of the insured went to medical treatment for obesity.
Diagnostic procedures incur high expenses, although the benefits are often questionable
The increasing additional expenses for expensive diagnostic procedures are difficult for the health insurance companies. Around six million people have a magnetic resonance imaging performed every year. This procedure alone causes annual expenditure of around two billion euros. MRI is most commonly used in Germany in a worldwide comparison. "More than seven percent were in the tube," explained the Barmer vice-chief, Rolf-Ulrich Schlenker. However, the benefits can hardly be recognized from the frequency of the procedures. According to the study authors, after an MRI, actual therapy was only carried out in 50 percent of the cases. In addition, damage is discovered during MRI and then treated, even though the patient previously had no restrictions. With the CT X-ray method, the patient is exposed to a high radiation dose. However, many patients do not know about it or are only insufficiently informed by the attending doctor.
The 2011 medical report is considered representative by experts, as the Barmer GEK is one of the industry leaders among health insurance companies. A good average value can be calculated for the total population in Germany. In mid-February, the health insurance company DAK also plans to present its 2011 health report. (sb)
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Image: Thommy Weiss / pixelio.de