Statutory health insurance companies receive billions in financial injections from the health fund

Health insurance funds are receiving billions of dollars from the federal government
After the increases in health insurance contributions in recent years, the insured in Germany should be relieved somewhat. The federal government wants to support the health insurance companies with 1.5 billion euros. The reserves of the health fund are to be tapped for the first time.

Health insurance contributions expected to increase
After the premium increases in January, experts had predicted further increases in health insurance contributions for the coming year. The health insurers themselves stated that they feared higher additional expenditure due to the new integration law of the black and red federal government. In the election year, however, this could become delicate for the government parties. A huge financial injection by the federal government may help to ease the situation for the Union parties and the SPD.

Financial injection from the health fund
As reported by the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (FAZ), the statutory health insurance companies are to receive an additional financial injection from the health fund next year in order to curb the rise in contribution rates. A spokesman for the ministry said that the fund's reserves should be reduced by EUR 1.5 billion through a legal regulation and the money should be made available to the cash registers. Premium income and tax subsidies from the federal budget flow into the health fund. From this, the health insurance companies receive flat-rate payments every month.

Insured persons have to bear additional needs alone
The statutory cash contribution is currently 14.6 percent of gross monthly income, of which employer and employee each pay half. However, the members have to bear the additional needs of the health insurance funds alone because the employers' share is frozen. The health insurance companies charge an additional contribution, the amount of which they can determine themselves. This year, the average is 1.1 percent. There is even criticism of this model from the health insurance companies themselves. For example, the DAK boss had classified the additional contribution as nonsensical. This leads to senseless price competition and a creeping "withdrawal of employers from financial responsibility".

Increases at the turn of the year
Experts expect further increases at the turn of the year. According to calculations by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, the rate will climb to 1.8 percent by 2019. According to the FAZ, the health fund currently has reserves of around ten billion euros. In order to provide the cash registers with more money from the reserve, the law must first be changed. According to the ministry, the now planned sum of 1.5 billion euros is intended to specifically support the health insurers with the costs for refugees and the expenses for setting up a telematics infrastructure. These include applications related to the electronic health card.

Avoid increasing contributions in the election year
The change is said to come into effect before October so that the so-called group of estimators can include it in its financial calculations. Then you can calculate how high the average additional contribution will be next year. The health insurers have been calling for some of the reserves to be used to reduce the burden of contributions for some time. The head of the VDEK substitute fund association, Ulrike Elsner, said that the planned amalgamation of the reserves was "a first correct step in order to avoid or cushion a further increase in the additional contribution rates in 2017". However, it called for the fund's reserves to be lowered beyond the proposed 1.5 billion euros. As a reserve, 6.5 billion euros and thus 35 percent of a monthly expenditure are sufficient. Increasing contributions in the election year are tricky for the Federal Government, which is why speculation about financial aid has been going on for some time. (ad)

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