German Reforms Lead to Health Service Surplus

BERLIN (Reuters) Apr 19 - Germany's health service ended 2004 with a 4 billion euros ($5.21 billion) surplus thanks to government reforms that prompted a fall in spending on drugs and therapies, Federal Statistics Office data showed on Tuesday.
State health insurance fund expenditure sank 3.5 percent to 138.9 billion euros, with outlays for pharmaceutical services alone down 10.8 percent to 20.3 billion euros, the Office said.
Doctors' bills fell 5.3 percent to 23.0 billion euros, while spending on treatments and therapies dropped 11.4 percent to 8.2 billion euro.
The health sector surplus, which followed a deficit of 2.9 billion euros in 2003, helped Germany's social security accounts overall into the black for the first time since 2000, masking shortfalls in other areas.
The 2.1 billion euros overall social security surplus followed a deficit of 6.0 billion euros in 2003.
However, the figure was boosted by the pension system's sale of its Gagfah housing unit for a gain of 2.1 billion euros, the data showed.
Even with this cash injection the pension system still ended the year in deficit to the tune of 1.4 billion euros.
The nursing care insurance system and Federal Labour Office also had deficits, the Statistics Office said.
Reuters Health Information 2005. © 2005 Reuters Ltd.

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