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Ulla Schmidt, Federal Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Discusses Health Reform with Demonstrators (February 19, 2004)
The various reform roadblocks had a particularly negative impact on healthcare, where rising costs made the question of how to finance the statutory health insurance system increasingly urgent. Furthermore, as with non-wage labor costs, health insurance contributions by employees and employers drove up the cost of labor in Germany and thus strained the labor market. On the basis of a compromise between the red-green government and the CDU/CSU in the summer of 2003, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat passed the "Statutory Health Insurance Modernization Act," which took effect on January 1, 2004. It called for the introduction of a basic co-payment of 10 Euros per quarter, higher co-payments (especially for medication and hospitalization), and restrictions on services offered to the insured. This photograph shows Ulla Schmidt (SPD, right), federal minister for health and social affairs, discussing healthcare reform with demonstrators in front of the Mansfelder Land Clinic (in Saxony-Anhalt). The PDS poster in the background on the left reads: “Get rid of the basic co-pay.” Photo: Andrea Bienert