Millions of families are struggling with the fact that care is getting more and more expensive. After a long struggle, a reform has now been sealed that should take countermeasures. That’s not enough for everyone – even in the coalition.
In view of an ever-increasing wave of costs for care, relief for those in need of care should come – but also higher contributions, except for families with several younger children. The Bundestag passed a law by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), which is intended to provide financial security for long-term care insurance until 2025.
The care contribution is to be increased by 0.35 percentage points on July 1 and even more for people without children. From the beginning of 2024, those in need of care should receive more money at home and in the home. The opposition rejected the reform.
In a roll-call vote, 377 MPs voted in favor of the law, 275 against and two abstained. Lauterbach defended the plan, even if it was “not a perfect law”. “For relatives who do most of the care, we have once again managed to make a significant improvement,” he emphasized. “The increase in contribution rates must be worth the improved care to us.” In the future, the contributions would also be distributed more fairly. The minister turned against allegations that care was being saved. Expenditure grew from 35 billion euros in 2017 to 60 billion euros. The reform is now intended to mobilize an additional 6.6 billion euros per year.
Widespread criticism came from the opposition. What the coalition is presenting is “poor on-sight driving,” said CDU MP Diana Stöcker. It is good that there is now a budget to allow caregivers to take time off. But they would have to wait two years for that. Thomas Dietz (AfD) spoke of an “emergency operation”. Increases in benefits would bear no relation to inflation. Ates Gürpinar (left) accused the government: “You burden, you do not relieve.” The coalition factions emphasized relief for caregivers at home. At the same time, speakers from the SPD and the Greens made it clear that they would insist on further care improvements in the coalition agreement.
An overview of key points:
care at home
The nursing allowance, which was last increased in 2017, is to rise by five percent on January 1, 2024, as will the amounts for benefits in kind. Care allowance is intended to support those in need of care who do not live in institutions. You can use it freely, for example for care. Depending on the level of care, it is between 316 and 901 euros per month. Around four million people are cared for at home.
care in the home
Relief surcharges for residents introduced at the beginning of 2022 are to be increased by January 1, 2024. The personal contribution for pure care should be reduced by 15 instead of the previous 5 percent in the first year in the home, by 30 instead of 25 percent in the second year, by 50 instead of 45 percent and from the fourth year by 75 instead of 70 percent. The background to this is that nursing care insurance – unlike health insurance – only bears part of the costs for pure nursing care. In the home, there are also payments for accommodation, meals and investments in the facilities.
The care contribution is currently 3.05 percent of the gross wage, for people without children it is 3.4 percent. It is to be increased on July 1, in combination with changes due to a judgment by the Federal Constitutional Court. Accordingly, a distinction must be made more according to whether one has children or not. All in all, the contribution for childless people should rise to 4 percent and for those who pay contributions with one child to 3.4 percent. The employer’s contribution contained therein is now to be increased from 1.525 percent to 1.7 percent.
In concrete terms, the care contribution for larger families is to be reduced more significantly for the duration of the upbringing phase up to the 25th birthday of the child in question – gradually for each child. From two children would have to be paid – based on the employee share of currently 1.525 percent – less than today. With two children, the employee share is to be 1.45 percent in the future, with three children 1.2 percent, with four children 0.95 percent and with five or more children 0.7 percent. If a child is older than 25 years, “his” deduction does not apply. If all the children are out of the child-rearing period, the one-child contribution applies permanently, even if you are retired.
There should now also be a budget with relief for care at home. It is intended to bundle preventive and short-term care services – i.e. that care is secured if relatives cannot do it. From July 1, 2025, up to 3539 euros per year can be used flexibly, and without a previous lead time of six months for the first use. For parents of children in need of care up to the age of 25 with care grade 4 or 5, the budget should be available from January 1, 2024 with 3386 euros and by July 2025 it will also increase to up to 3539 euros.
Two tiers are also envisaged to further increase all cash and in-kind benefits. On January 1, 2025, there should now be an increase of 4.5 percent instead of the initially thought 5 percent – in return for the budget that was still recorded. On January 1, 2028, the benefits are to increase based on the inflation rate of the three previous years.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.