The Preventive Health Care Act
The Act to Strengthen Health Promotion and Preventive Health Care (Preventive Health Care Act) took its last parliamentary hurdle on 10th July 2015 in the Bundesrat and an integral part of it entered into force on 25th July 2015.
“ With the Preventive Health Care Act we are strengthening health promotion directly in the settings in which people live – in nursery schools, schools, in the workplace and in nursing homes. Furthermore, screening tests for children, young people and adults will be further developed and vaccination coverage improved. The aim of these efforts is to prevent disease before it can manifest itself.
The Preventive Health Care Act strengthens the basis for enhanced co-operation among the social security institutions, the Laender, and the local authorities in the areas of prevention and health promotion – for all age-groups and in multiple life settings. Indeed, the aim is to have prevention and health promotion gain ground in the places where persons live, learn and work. With the assistance of this law, early detection screening among children, young persons and adults will continue to be developed and important measures taken to close the vaccination gaps that exist in all age groups.
The Prevention Act also contains an important measure that will set the course for the future of the long-term care insurance. The Central Association of the Long-term Care Insurance Funds will be given the legal mandate to initiate the drafting of amendments to the Guidelines for Expert Opinions. This regulation will serve to ensure timely preparation for the introduction of the new definition of long-term care needs in anticipation of the Second Act to Strengthen Long-Term Care.
Essential content of the Preventive Health Care Act
The Bill relies on the targeted co-operation of those involved in prevention and health promotion. Alongside the statutory health insurance, the statutory pension insurance and the statutory accident insurance, the statutory long-term-care insurance and the private health insurance will also be involved. Within the context of a National Prevention Conference, the social security institutions, with the participation, especially of the Federal Government, the Laender, the local authorities, the Federal Employment Agency and the social partners, will identify joint goals and agree on a joint approach.
The statutory long-term care insurance will receive a new prevention mandate, so as to be able to bring health promoting opportunities even to the residents of long-term-care facilities.
The Preventive Health Care Act also promotes vaccine-related prevention through a range of legal measures. In the future, vaccine protection will be monitored in the course of all routine health examinations for children, young people and adults as well as in tests related to the protection of young people at work. Even company doctors are to be allowed to conduct general protective vaccinations in the future. Evidence of vaccination counselling by a doctor must be presented for a child to be accepted to a daycare facility. Should a measles outbreak occur in a community facility (for example, a daycare facility, school or after-school program), the competent authorities will be allowed to temporarily exclude unvaccinated children from attendance. Medical facilities may make the recruitment of employees dependent on the existence of the necessary vaccination coverage and immunity. Moreover, health insurance funds may now envisage the granting of bonus benefits for vaccinations.
The Act provides for the continued development of the existing health checks and screening tests for the early detection of diseases among children, young people and adults. In future, increased attention is to be paid to individual stressors and risk factors that can lead to disease. Doctors will be given the possibility of issuing prevention recommendations and thus contributing to the maintenance and improvement of their patients' health.
The health insurance and long-term insurance funds will be investing over 500 million euros for health promotion and prevention in the coming years. The main focus, thereby, will be on health promotion in life settings such as child daycare facilities, schools, local authorities, workplaces and long-term care facilities, with a total investment of at least some 300 million euros per year.
On the basis of a national prevention strategy, the social security institutions will arrive at an agreement with the Laender, with the participation of the Federal Employment Agency and the associations of local authorities on the concrete shape that their co-operation on health promotion is to take, particularly in the local authorities, day care facilities, schools, enterprises and long-term care facilities.
Financial support for self-help organisations in the field of health will be increased, through the Preventive Health Care Act, by approximately 30 million euros. From the year 2016, the health insurance fund will be making 1.05 euros per insured person available to the self-help groups, organisations and contact points.