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German health insurance fund warns of higher contributions next year

German health insurance fund warns of higher contributions next year

German health insurance fund warns of higher contributions next year

For a long time, statutory health insurance companies in Germany have been sitting on large income surpluses. But with the coronavirus pandemic placing unprecedented strain on finances, one insurance association is now warning of a looming shortfall - and is threatening that, unless the government steps in, it will be forced to raise premiums. 

AOK warns it could be forced to double additional contributions

The public health insurance association AOK has warned that, “without countermeasures” from the federal government, it will be forced to increase its additional contribution (Zusatzbeitrag) charge from the current 1,3 percent to 2,5 percent after the general election next year. AOK (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse) is the largest association of statutory health insurance funds in Germany, which collectively cover around a third of the population. 

Since 2015, public health insurance funds in Germany have been allowed to charge additional contributions (Zusatzbeiträge) on top of the regular statutory contribution rate, to cover additional financing requirements. The level of the contribution is determined by the individual health insurance companies. Since 2019, the cost has been shared equally between employees and employers. 

Speaking to the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, AOK boss Martin Litsch justified the increase on the grounds that the pandemic is currently draining the insurance fund’s coffers. On the one hand, the crisis is increasing their costs; at the same time, their income from social security contributions looks set to fall as a result of the economic slump. 

Private health insurance not helping to shoulder cost of pandemic

The additional contribution was already due to increase by 0,2 percentage points in 2021 - and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has also promised an additional 16 billion euros for statutory health insurance - but AOK is now arguing that neither is likely to be enough to cover the shortfall.

Litsch further criticised the fact that the health cost of the coronavirus pandemic was being imposed unilaterally on statutory contributors. Complaining that private health insurance was not sufficiently contributing, he said that the financing of additional intensive care beds, bonuses for nurses and coronavirus tests continue to run “solely on account of the contributors to statutory health insurance."

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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