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Massive fall in German sickness fund numbers:

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

The number of German statutory health insurance funds has fallen by 72% from 1,146 in 1994 to 323 in January 2003, says the companies' sickness fund (BKK). This comes as a result of a number of mergers, it claims. The number of BKK regional funds also fell by 64% from 706 to 205 over the same period. Although the overall number of mergers is higher than those of the BKK, they are not necessarily a good thing, it says. The average contribution rate for the top ten funds is 14.6%, for the BKK it is still 13.6%. In addition to this, mergers restrict the amount of choice available in the health service, said BKK chairman Wolfgang Schmeinck. "The competitive nature of the health service needs flexibility and choice, not a monopoly," he added.

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