Rapid COVID tests in Germany to cost 3 euros from July
Germany’s Health Ministry has confirmed plans to end free rapid COVID tests for all from July, and will in future ask people to contribute 3 euros per test. Some vulnerable groups will continue to qualify for free testing.
Most people will have to pay 3 euros for COVID tests in future
Announcing the policy change, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said, “I will make no secret of the fact that I would have liked to have continued the free citizens’ tests for all,” but the scheme was costing the government an average of 1 billion euros each month. “The truth is,” he conceded, “unfortunately, we cannot afford that in the tight budget situation that awaits us in autumn.”
From July, therefore, people will be asked for a co-payment of 3 euros for a rapid COVID test under the Bürgertest scheme. Some vulnerable groups, including children up to the age of five, women in the first trimester of pregnancy, and visitors to hospitals and nursing homes, will continue to qualify for free testing.
The government has also given the option for the federal states to take over the co-payment of 3 euros, meaning that tests may remain free in some regions.
German government looking to cut costs on COVID testing
The federal government will continue to subsidise the tests by paying test centres 9,50 euros per test - down from 11,50 euros previously. The cost-saving measures will allow the government to bring expenditure on testing down from 5 billion to 2,7 billion euros by the end of the year.
The decision is a compromise between Lauterbach - who previously advocated for keeping tests free for people with symptoms of coronavirus and those heading to large events - and Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who is keen to cut costs with an eye towards the autumn budget.
“The use of taxpayers’ money will become more effective, as not everything can be paid by the federal government in the longer run,” Lindner said. “Our possibilities have reached their limits.”