Germany's upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat, approved the first of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010 package of reform bills on Friday with a majority vote in favor of sweeping healthcare reforms. The law, first passed by Germany's lower house, the Bundestag, on Sept. 26, will reduce monthly premium payments for the national public healthcare system from 14.3 percent of an employee's gross income to 13.6 percent next year and 12.15 percent by 2006. In addition to saving public healthcare funds as much as €20 billion, the law is also aimed at lowering Germany's non-wage labor costs, which are among the world's highest. In Germany, employers and employees split healthcare premiums. But the bill also means new out-of-pocket expenses for patients, who will have to make co-payments for doctor visits and prescriptions and will no longer receive denture or tooth replacement coverage after the law goes into effect on Jan. 1.