General practitioners are expected to play a key role in advancing the vaccine rollout in Germany. As the vaccination coverage of the population increases, additional efforts by physicians will be necessary to advance the vaccine rollout and ultimately achieve herd immunity. Doctors who administer COVID-19 jabs therefore need flexible and needs-based reimbursement. A recent ZEW policy brief proposes a flexible reimbursement system that efficiently provides and distributes funds to achieve high vaccination prevalence.

ZEW researchers propose a flexible reimbursement system that efficiently provides and distributes funds to achieve high vaccination coverage.
ZEW researchers propose a flexible reimbursement system that efficiently provides and distributes funds to achieve high vaccination coverage.

As the vaccine rollout progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to find people who are willing to be vaccinated. Vaccinating only those patients who come to the practice at their own initiative will not suffice to achieve herd immunity. Physicians will have to proactively approach their patients. Ultimately, this will increase the costs of medical professionals in the course of the vaccination campaign. It is therefore crucial that doctors who administer vaccines communicate this proactively and provide transparent information in order to increase the willingness to be vaccinated among the population. This aspect of the vaccination campaign has been given too little attention so far.

“GP practices are probably already at their breaking point. Expecting doctors to convince unvaccinated people of the benefit of a COVID-19 vaccination in addition to their normal activities and resources seems difficult to me,” says Professor Vitali Gretschko, head of the Research Department “Market Design” at ZEW Mannheim and co-author of the ZEW policy brief. However, if not enough people get vaccinated, this would thwart the desired goal of herd immunity.

In order to actively reach those who are still undecided, a considerable effort is required on the part of the medical professionals. This includes changes in practice opening hours, overtime, the need for additional staff, mobile vaccination services, new software and the contracting of additional external services. “The current reimbursement of 20 euros per vaccination only partially covers this effort and is simply not efficient. This is too little for a measure that has a long-term effect and is so crucial for our health system,” explains Dr. Marion Ott, researcher in the ZEW Research Department “Market Design” and co-author. By comparison, doctors receive 15 euros for each rapid antigen test. Since on average a patient is tested more often than vaccinated, testing is more expensive overall.

What is therefore needed, according to the ZEW research team, is a flexible and needs-based reimbursement scheme for medical professionals. To this end, the scientists have developed a system that takes into account the different costs as well as the need for basic and supplementary vaccines. At the same time, it creates a fair supplementary reimbursement that can be implemented with little administrative effort. “Through our system, government funds can be distributed efficiently so that as many people as possible are vaccinated. Furthermore, an additional reimbursement creates incentives for services that make vaccination as efficient as possible,” says Vitali Gretschko.

ECB Prepares Public for a Higher Price Increase Rate – Even Beyond the Previous Inflation Target (21 January 2021)

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided not to further ease its monetary policy and not to expand its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP). Professor Friedrich Heinemann, head of the Research Department “Corporate Taxation and Public Finance” at ZEW Mannheim, comments on this matter.

“The industry in the eurozone is recovering significantly despite the second wave of Covid-19. So there is currently no need to discuss an expansion of the already exceptionally expansive monetary policy. For the time being, the ECB’s PEPP is perfectly equipped. This is also reflected in the new announcement that the full budget of 1,850 billion euros does not necessarily have to be used up by March 2022. Currently, it is becoming increasingly clear how problematic the incentive effect of the programme is: even the latest turmoil in the Italian government has not had a significant impact on the historically low Italy spreads. The market has largely ceased its remedial function as a watchdog for the policies of the euro states. Investors now seem to be unanimous in their view that the ECB will guarantee the liquidity of all euro states at all costs, no matter how well or badly the governments perform. The ECB Governing Council is currently facing a delicate communicative mission. The ECB is preparing the public for an at least temporarily significant rise in inflation at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. In doing so, it will accept a price increase rate that is even above the previous inflation target without exiting from the massive government bond purchase programme.”

Date

17.05.2021

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