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Health: Health insurance companies warn of higher contributions in 2025

Health: Health insurance companies warn of higher contributions in 2025
Health: Health insurance companies warn of higher contributions in 2025

Health care in Germany costs billions – and the financial situation remains tense. Will it be more expensive for contributors in the year of the federal election?

In view of rising billions in expenditure, statutory health insurance companies (GKV) are warning of increases in contributions for insured persons next year. An additional financial requirement of 0.5 to 0.6 percentage points is to be expected in 2025, said the head of the GKV umbrella association, Doris Pfeiffer, in Kremmen, Brandenburg.

This does not even include additional costs from current legislative proposals. Pfeiffer called for fundamental financial reform. “The spiral of increasing contribution rates must be broken.”

The additional contribution that the statutory health insurance funds set for their members had already been increased slightly to an average of 1.7 percent for this year. The total contribution also includes the general rate of 14.6 percent of gross wages, which is shared between employers and employees. In the year of the federal election in 2025, the struggle to fill financial gaps in the care of the 58 million health insurance fund members and 16 million non-contributory co-insured people will continue. All in all, this involves benefit expenditure of almost 300 billion euros annually.

There is “no indication that the all-clear has been given” in terms of expenditure, said Pfeiffer. In the first quarter of 2024, it grew by 7.1 percent per insured person. For the year as a whole, the GKV Association expects an increase of 6.5 percent and for 2025 of 5.0 to 5.5 percent. On the other hand, contribution income is expected to rise by 5.4 percent this year and by 4.4 percent in 2025. The background to this is that employment is stable for the time being and recent high collective bargaining agreements are having an impact.

Pfeiffer: Some health insurance companies have to increase additional contributions in the middle of the year

It is no longer an option to add something from the funds’ financial buffers, as Pfeiffer made clear. It is a big question whether the minimum reserve of 5.4 billion euros required by the funds for 2024 can still be met. It is currently expected that some funds will have to increase the additional contribution, which is usually fixed at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year. Another reason for this is that the funds have melted away billions in reserves in recent years, partly due to legal requirements.

In order to stabilize the statutory health insurance funds, the traffic light coalition had already provided an extra financial injection for 2023, which averted an otherwise expected deficit of 17 billion euros. The money came, among other things, from cash reserves and an increase in the additional contribution of 0.15 points to 1.51 percent. The federal government increased its regular subsidy of 14.5 billion euros by two billion euros, and the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacies were also called upon. According to the GKV Association, the bottom line for the funds was a deficit of 1.9 billion euros in 2023.

Tight budget and further expenses expected

A new financial injection from the federal government for 2025 is not in sight for the time being, especially since negotiations on the budget are already difficult enough. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has made it clear several times that he is generally not considering cutting services. The health insurance companies are concerned that several of the SPD politician’s plans will increase spending even further – from a fund for the reorganization of clinics to incentives for pharmaceutical companies in the fight against supply bottlenecks to better conditions for family doctors. This is likely to result in an additional spending risk of two billion euros for 2025.

For some time now, the health insurance companies have been protesting against the use of contribution money for general public services – for example, when the health insurance companies are left with part of the care costs of people receiving citizen’s allowance. It does matter where the money comes from, argued Uwe Klemens, co-chairman of the GKV umbrella association. Tax money is raised by everyone, contributions only by health insurance members and employers, with privately insured people being left out and high earners benefiting from an upper limit.

Source: Stern

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