German health minister calls to cut state-funded homeopathy treatment
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has said that homeopathic medicine has no place in the science-based statutory health insurance system and called for it to be cut.
Lauterbach suggests cut to subsidised homeopathy
Germany’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, has said that he believes homeopathic treatment should no longer be covered by statutory health insurance in Germany. Speaking on the Stimmenfang podcast of the SPIEGEL magazine, Lauterbach said, “Despite the fact that homeopathy is not significant when it comes to [health insurance] expenditure volume, it has no place in a science-based health insurance policy. For that reason, we are going to reassess if homeopathy should be removed as a benefit of statutory healthcare.”
The German health insurance system comprises statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung - GKV) and private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung - PKV). Many statutory health insurance providers in Germany offer homeopathic treatments. Beyond what can be attributed to the placebo effect, there is currently no scientific evidence for the health benefits of using homeopathic medicines.
Germany’s homeopathic Achilles' heel
Despite Germany’s reputation for employing logical and efficient problem solving, the country has a long history of promoting the use of homeopathic medicines. According to a 2020 study conducted by social research institute Forsa, more than half of Germans have used homeopathy and 70 percent are open to it.
Proponents of homeopathic treatments tend to use highly-diluted natural substances like plants or minerals instead of the medicines conventionally used in western medicine. Homeopathic methods can be linked to a late 18th-century physician from Saxony, Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann’s methods included bloodletting and purging, which were questioned even by his contemporaries in the medical field.
The historical German fondness of homeopathy was cemented in the Nazi era, the period when homeopathy first received official state recognition as a medical treatment. Homeopathy was used by the Nazi regime to further a nationalist agenda through “New German Medicine” (Neue Deutsche Heilkunde), which emphasised that the medicines were made in Germany.
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