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These European countries have the highest density of doctors

In Austria, on average, there are about 545 general practitioners available for every 100,000 inhabitants—no other country in Europe can boast such comprehensive physician coverage.

According to Eurostat data from 2020, Germany also maintains an above-average doctor-to-population ratio. In this country, there are approximately 453 doctors for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is nearly a hundred less than our neighbors to the south. As the Statista chart illustrates, the DACH region in Europe enjoys comparatively good availability of practicing physicians. For instance, there are significantly fewer doctors per 100,000 inhabitants in countries like France (318).

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Nonetheless, acute shortages of doctors prevail in many parts of the Federal Republic. While the number of trained medical professionals is steadily increasing, it is struggling to keep pace with the demographic changes in Germany. More and more practicing doctors are retiring from their careers, coinciding with an aging population and growing demand. Another issue is that only a few young doctors are willing to establish themselves as contracted physicians in rural areas. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung) forecasts a moderate rise in demand for medical care by 2030, accompanied by a decline in supply.

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Germans tend to visit doctors relatively frequently in international comparison. As depicted by the Statista chart based on OECD data, German citizens visit a doctor about 10 times a year, excluding visits to dentists. The OECD average stands at 6.6 visits. At the forefront is South Korea, with around 17 doctor visits. While the number of doctors per capita in South Korea is relatively low in comparison to the OECD, they are equipped to handle a large number of patients.

The number of doctor visits in Germany has been a subject of critical discussion. According to media reports, doctors express concerns that patients often come to the emergency department with mild fever. Many doctor visits are deemed unnecessary for medical reasons. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) aims to alleviate this situation with the "Appointment Service and Supply Act" (Terminservice- und Versorgungsgesetz or TSVG). The law aims to relieve the healthcare system and stipulates that practices should offer more open consultation hours. Additionally, the centralized telephone appointment scheduling system is planned to be significantly expanded. This expansion is intended to reduce waiting times for appointment bookings.

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Especially in Sweden, people tend to visit doctors infrequently. For years, Sweden has been striving to make its healthcare system as efficient as possible. To curb unnecessary doctor visits, patients are required to contribute a co-payment of 200 Swedish Kronor (approximately 19 euros) for each doctor visit. Many consultations are conducted through E-health solutions such as chats or video calls whenever possible.

This article is from the 3/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.