In the area of digitization, Germany is considered a developing country in some respects by global standards. This applies in particular to the public sector. The electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU), which was announced years ago, is intended to be a step in the right direction. The pilot project, which has been running for just under a year, is now to enter its final phase. Ultimately, employers are to be required to retrieve the sick note online from January 1, 2023.
More convenience through eAU only for patients with statutory health insurance
Anyone who is ill should recover as quickly as possible in order to recover quickly. However, this is sometimes not possible. For fear of possible wage cuts, employees always stress out about forwarding the certificate of incapacity for work to the employer and health insurance company in good time. This is soon to be a thing of the past. The electronic certificate of incapacity for work (eAU) will make this possible. As of January 1, 2023, patients will no longer have to submit paper copies of the certificate of incapacity for work to the two authorities. From the turn of the year, this will be taken care of by the doctor’s office. This then sends the sick note digitally to the health insurance company, where the employer can retrieve it. This not only benefits patient convenience, but also saves a lot of paper to boot.
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From the so far total of three slips of paper namely only one copy for the filing of the patient. So that the security does not fall by the wayside, one relies on the service communication in medicine (KIM) in the transmission. Peer-to-peer encryption is used to ensure the necessary data protection for sensitive personal data. However, the employee’s obligation to notify the employer has not been eliminated. The employee must still inform the employer of his or her inability to work. For members of a private health insurance, however, everything remains the same. They still have to receive the paper copies and then forward them.
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Classical paper AU possible in an emergency
Of course, one cannot expect that the new regulations can be implemented bang on the dot. For example, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) complains that employers have been inadequately informed. As a result, they could have problems calling up the eAU from January 01, 2023. The assumption is based on the pure figures that the pilot project has now produced. For example, in the first half of 2022, only just under 1.5 million electronic sick notes are said to have been requested by employers. When you consider that just under 77 million “yellow slips” are issued each year, the demand seems shockingly low. Consequently, there may simply be a lack of practice on the part of employers. Accordingly, the KBV calls for employers to be left to decide for the time being whether they want to use the new or old form of AU.
Of course, technical problems can always stand in the way of digital transmission paths. There should be a solution for this as well. If there are disruptions that prevent the eAU from being transmitted, it will still be possible to use the classic paper form in three versions. The procedure is also the same as for the paper version of the AU. This means that the document must be handed over to the employer. Sending it to the health insurance company is the responsibility of the doctor’s office. The health insurance companies, in turn, can “convert” the AU into an eAU on site. For this purpose, each AU is to receive a type of barcode. The health insurer then posts the AU on the AU portal, where the employer can download it in electronic form, as before. So I guess there’s nothing standing in the way of the eAU!