Doctor treats people without health insurance in Augsburg – Bavaria

The district association of the Bavarian Red Cross (BRK) estimates that around 300 people living in Augsburg do not have health insurance. To help them, the BRK opened a medical practice for the uninsured, funded by donations, on Wednesday. The internist Reinhard Eder, who worked as a panel doctor until two and a half years ago, treats the patients there every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

According to the BRK, it is not possible to estimate how great the demand will be. The guideline is this: one to two uninsured people per 1,000 inhabitants – that’s about 300 people in Augsburg. At the opening on Wednesday, nobody was there in the premises of the Maria Stern Monastery, where the practice is housed rent-free. However, it shouldn’t really start until next week. “This is an experiment for us,” says Michael Gebler, managing director of the BRK district association in Augsburg-Stadt.

Physician Reinhard Eder orientated himself to comparable projects in Mainz and Bad Segeberg; he approached the city of Augsburg with the idea a year and a half ago. “But it was said that there was no need,” says Eder. As a doctor in private practice, he experienced that this was not the case. Due to the lack of interest in his idea, he actually gave it up, says Eder. Until he approached the Bavarian Red Cross, which was willing to support Eder in his request.

Many people fall through the net without malicious intent

“Anyone can get into financial difficulties. Sick people without money and insurance are faced with a real dilemma and often see no way out,” Eder explains the need. “Many feel like failures and tend to gloss over or hide their plight.”

According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 61,000 people in Germany did not have health insurance in 2019, and the authority did not collect more recent figures. “People mostly fall through the net without any bad intentions,” says Tatjana Asmuth, deputy BRK department head for social affairs.

Of course, the BRK and Eder not only want to enable their patients to receive treatment, but also to advise them. The practice is, says managing director Michael Gebler, “docked” to the district center, where the socio-educational work takes place. In this way, people could also be referred directly to the Office for Social Services. “So that one or the other needy person can then apply for basic security there. Then he would also be automatically insured,” says Gebler. However, many of those affected do not know this.

The doctor and the BRK have now cleared most of the biggest bureaucratic hurdles, but one challenge remains: after all, Eder is an internist and not a gynecologist or radiologist at the same time. “Of course it would be great,” says Michael Gebler, “if one or the other doctor were more willing to take on patients from us so that we can refer them to others.”

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