The possibility of telephone sick leave for mild cold symptoms without visiting the practice is coming to an end. The special regulation of the Federal Joint Committee of doctors, clinics and health insurance companies introduced in the corona crisis only applies until this Friday (March 31).
In future, contract doctors may only certify a patient's incapacity to work if there is a public-law obligation or recommendation for isolation. According to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), this can be the case with an infectious disease such as Covid-19 or monkeypox. The Federal Joint Committee had decided on this unlimited regulation on telephone sick leave, which came into effect on April 1st.
Sick leave by phone fulfilled its function during the pandemic - as an "easily implementable way to differentiate between mild and severe cases of illness and to avoid full waiting rooms," said committee chairman Josef Hecken of the German Press Agency. In view of the current risk assessment by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), it is now being phased out. But you keep an eye on them and can activate them again very quickly if necessary.
Since the end of March 2020, it has been possible almost continuously to call in sick for mild respiratory problems. This should reduce unnecessary contacts and avoid corona infections. The Federal Joint Committee had extended the special regulation several times, most recently until March 31. The RKI downgraded the risk assessment for Germany from high to moderate in early February.
Hecken said that the special regulation had struck a balance between protection against corona infection and access to care. He thinks, for example, of the chronically ill who need regular care. "I am very happy about that." He had to say self-critically that the federal committee first had to find the right balance when dealing with telephone sick leave as part of the anti-corona tool kit. A temporary waiver of the regulation in view of the falling number of cases in spring 2020 was too optimistic and was quickly corrected.
"Regardless of the pandemic situation, insured persons can also receive sick leave during a video consultation - not just for mild respiratory diseases," explained Hecken. "So that means that there is already the regular possibility that an insured person does not have to go to the doctor's office for every illness." The prerequisite is, of course, that the inability to work can be clarified without an immediate physical examination.