Under the auspices of the Volkswagen Foundation’s “Bridging the Gap” programme the project will bring important questions of social policy into the scientific discussion and establish a dialogue between scientists and relevant social policy organisations. The project will also examine the impact of the 2003/4 statutory health insurance and welfare reforms on seriously and chronically ill persons on low incomes and discuss alternative models for addressing their needs. Secondary analyses of social data will be used to define more closely the above-mentioned set of circumstances and to identify as precisely as possible the groups of people affected. On this basis the project will describe the effects of the health reform with reference to supplementary analyses from qualitative studies and then compare these with alternative models. Here we will look at three approaches:

  • • first, a health insurance-based approach (whereby the statutory health insurance would take greater account of the needs of the chronically ill),
  • second, a sickness-support-based approach (individual health needs are covered via welfare),
  •  third, an approach that envisages strengthening private provision alongside the statutory health insurance.

The findings will be presented at a conference of scientists and representatives from the relevant ministries, the voluntary sector, self-help organisations, health insurance funds and social assistance agencies.

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Dr. Peter Bartmann, b. 1963, Protestant theologian and health economist, adviser on fundamental questions of health provision for the Diakonisches Werk der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland e.V (Protestant Church organisation). Currently released for the research project.