Maintaining health instead of “repair medicine”

February 2024

First German health insurance company reimburses proteome analysis for the early detection of diseases

‘IK Innovationskasse’ is the first German statutory health insurance to pay for molecular early detection tests for chronic cardiovascular and kidney disease and individual carcinomas using proteome analysis. For more information, see:

‘IK Innovationskasse’ board member Ralf Hermes is convinced. "This form of prevention seems to have the potential to solve the cost problem in the healthcare system to a large extent," says Hermes. The ‘IK Innovationskasse’ recently began covering a large part of the costs of this new molecular diagnostic method. With the help of proteome analysis, the risk of many chronic diseases can be effectively reduced because they can be identified at a molecular level for the first time and recognised early before organ damage occurs, thus enabling efficient treatment to be initiated. It is well known that drugs only act on proteins, not on dead cells.

The dilemma so far has been that chronic diseases progress without symptoms and go unrecognised in the first few years before they become noticeable with massive organ damage. They are the real cost drivers in healthcare systems because they are recognised too late and therefore have to be treated inefficiently but at great expense and in a long time. With the ageing population, the increase in chronic diseases and the retirement of significant age groups from the medical service, the problems will soon have a dramatic impact.

Approximately 40% of the German population is chronically ill and therefore requires regular medical treatment. The costs for this amount to more than 120 billion euros per year. This corresponds to a third of the total expenditure of the statutory health insurance funds in Germany of just over 300 billion a year.

Hermes sees it as a logical step to support this necessary paradigm shift, "away from repair medicine", with the use of proteome analysis for early detection to prevent organ damage that can no longer be stopped and is irreparable. "Better prevention through early detection also allows medical treatments and necessary medications to be better tailored to individual patients for the benefit of the health of the insured and to reduce costs more efficiently," Hermes continued. This could not only save the German healthcare system from imminent collapse, but improve patient’s quality of life and life expectancy.

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