Diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and back pain are all so-called widespread diseases. According to the Robert Koch Institute, cardiovascular diseases are responsible for as many as 40% of all deaths. These diseases largely result from stress, lack of exercise and overeating. Those who keep these issues in check and opt for a health-conscious lifestyle can manage to avoid or at least delay the development of the illnesses listed above.
Primary prevention – Be health-conscious
The relevant preventative measures can be divided into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. The aim of the first is to avoid damaging factors by increasing our awareness and choosing a healthy lifestyle (behavioural prevention). This includes information campaigns and health courses concerning exercise habits, diet, stress management and consumption of addictive substances.
As well as the measures related to people’s behaviour, there is also primary prevention in the educational setting, which is concerned with the relationship between people and their living environment. These measures take place at creches, schools, municipal authorities, businesses and care facilities, where they help create a health-promoting framework.
Each year, health insurance companies invest over 500 million euros in health-promotion and prevention, with this area alone receiving around 300 million euros.
Prevention is better than cure
Secondary prevention concerns the early identification of diseases with the aim of preventing them from developing. This includes preventative examinations, newborn screenings and health check-ups such as “Check-up 35”, which allow the risks of developing issues such as cardiovascular diseases and blood-sugar illnesses to be detected.
Tertiary prevention is intended to avoid or reduce complications arising from pre-existing conditions, for example with a course of treatment.
Health courses – who covers the cost?
Health insurance companies are obliged to pay for preventative measures as per Book V of the German Social Code. This includes subsidising up to two health courses per year.
There are two methods in place for reimbursement:
- Health insurance companies collaborate with certain course providers to distribute health vouchers. Anyone who presents one of these vouchers to a participating course provider may attend the course free of charge. The course provider then settles the bill with the insurer.
- Anyone who chooses a course outside of the cooperative network must initially cover the cost themselves until the course has finished, after which they may reclaim the costs by submitting a certificate of attendance to their insurer. 85% of the course fees will be reimbursed, up to a maximum of 150 euros.
In both cases, a minimum course attendance of 80% is compulsory in order for costs to be covered by the insurer.
All eligible courses in Lower Saxony can be found listed here by AOK. The courses are of course available to those insured by other companies as well.