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Editor’s blog Thursday 8 July 2010: On your Bismarcks ... get set ... go!

"A government must not waiver once it has chosen it's course. It must not look to the left or right but go forward."

"Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied."

"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."

"To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."

You've got to love Otto von Bismarck, who said or write all of the above. Among his considerable legacy was establishing the system of social welfare co-funded by employers and employees, which is the basis of most social insurance models.

It is very straightforward now to see a perfectly plausible 'glide path' to the privatisation of all NHS provision and commissioning on a social insurance basis. I will write something about this soon.

Topically, a good friend sent me a link to this news report from The Fatherland, where at a time of economic retrenchment they are increasing contributions and removing the cap on health insurers' Zusatzbeiträge (bless you!) - AKA top-ups. Thge cap was previously 1% of an individual's salary.

The Local reports that "the standard for the additional contributions will now be calculated according to average costs in the health sector, which generally has a much higher inflation rate than other industries. The insurers will be able to decide this rate themselves."

Two thoughts.

One: this suggests that reports of the health insurance model's fantastic cost-containment and driving efficiency-driving skills are greatly exaggerated.

Two: how much would you like to be able to decide the rate at which you get funded yourself, as German health insurers are to be allowed to do?

One question.

Would you believe coalition leader Peter Altmaier that this will be the last rise in the contribution rates “for a long time,” and would therefore pave the way for more fundamental structural reform?