Bodenseekreis: Here are the ramifications of ending free citizenship tests

On the way to the restaurant, fast to the Corona test center for a smear? From July, this is only possible free of charge under certain circumstances – or for a fee of at least three euros. Since the free citizenship tests expired on June 30th. Only certain groups are eligible for free screening, including children under five, pregnant women, and hospital visitors. If you want to take the test for no reason, you pay the full price yourself. In addition, the federal government reimburses the test centers only 9.50 euros instead of 11.50 euros for the test.

Both measures have been severely criticized in some cases – incl. by representatives of statutory health insurance companies and the National Association of Health Insurance Doctors (KBV), as citizenship surveys could no longer be accounted for in this way. Local umbrella organizations such as the German County Association and the German Association of Towns and Municipalities also criticized the end of the free trials as such an initial early warning system was no longer available. But how do those responsible in the Lake Constance area see it?

Are more cases going undetected now?

Germar Büngener, chairman of district doctors for the Lake Constance region, assumes that fewer people will now be able to do this. Result: “I suspect that fewer studies performed will also result in fewer identified patients, which will increase the number of unreported cases and thus create more space for spread,” he explains. He therefore suspects that more people will get reinfected as a result.

Germar Büngener, president of the district medical association for the Lake Constance region, in his practice in Friedrichshafen.

Germar Büngener, president of the district medical association for the Lake Constance region, in his practice in Friedrichshafen. | Photo: Mario Wössner

Andreas Kirsner, who runs a GP practice in Oberteuringen, is not afraid of any negative consequences. “From my point of view, the rapid test is recently sought and used by the general public primarily as a free quarantine test or during an upcoming visit to clinics and nursing homes,” he explains. And the test will remain free. He thinks it is right, for example, to have to pay yourself three euros for the quick tests for voluntary visits to indoor events, rather than fund them with taxpayers’ money.

Because

Family doctor Andreas Kirsner from Oberteuringen describes the additional bureaucracy caused by the new regulation as “generally unfeasible over time”. (archival image) | Photo: Sonja Ruess

Criticism of the extra bureaucracy

Kirsner sees something else critically. As of July 1, it was no longer profitable to offer quick tests to practitioners, as salary was cut by two euros and the bureaucratic workload increased – due to the obligation to provide evidence to cost centers such as the Association of Statutory Health to Insurance Doctors. In addition, cash registers and cash receipt books should now be kept and the rest kept on standby. “Overall not feasible in terms of time,” he says. However, test centers are more responsible for testing asymptomatic individuals anyway.

Martina Wabro operates such a station at the Meersburg ferry terminal. “I take it very critically,” he says of the political decision. And for several reasons. For operators like her, the situation is confusing and means a lot of extra work – as well as for those who have been tested. Because if you want to be tested for free or for three euros, you have to provide proof. For example, a cinema ticket as a receipt, a positive test from a relative, or a completed hospital visit form with a stamp.

“I think this is counterproductive as many of the positives are no longer recorded,” says Martina Wabro, who runs a test facility in Meersburg, about the new regulations. | Photo: Arndt, Isabelle

Wabro employees have to check everything, sometimes even keep receipts for test settlements. They are not sure if they are doing everything right. “And people perceive it completely differently when they are treated differently. Some are very upset, ”he says. For example, if you only have one positive home quick test, you still have to pay three euros. “Some people just turn around and walk away. I think that is counterproductive because a lot of the positive things are not being recorded anymore, ”Martin Wabro is concerned.

Do more test sites close in the circle?

After all, he initially wants to continue running his station – at least until the beginning of August. Then he can arrange the tests from July, probably with the Association of Doctors in the Statutory Health Insurance (KV) Baden-Württemberg. Their spokesman Kai Sonntag in principle welcomes the end of the free trials. “But the current regulation is not practicable.” The problem is the accounting for individual tests. However, KV is looking to announce detailed billing and documentation specs by July 15th. Depending on the effort involved in the obligation to provide documentation, Martina Wabro then wants to decide how to proceed with her test center. Other stations in the area have now closed.

The number of tests was already falling before July

Lars Gäbler, a spokesman for the district office, says: “So it is quite possible that more test centers will be closed.” Since the operation of test centers in the region also depends on the willingness of the population to submit to tests for a fee.

“It is quite possible that other test sites will be closed,” says Lars Gäbler, spokesman for the Bodenseekreis district office.

“It is quite possible that more test centers will be closed,” says Lars Gäbler, spokesman for the Bodenseekreis district office. | Photo: Lake Constance District Office

But even before the end of free smears for all, the number of tests in the district had dropped. In May, it was about 47 thousand. – about three quarters less than at the beginning of the year. The July data will be available on August 10, at which point you will be able to see how this new testing ordinance actually affected.

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