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German Health Insurance Costs Set to Rise in 2024: What You Need to Know

German Health Insurance Costs Set to Rise in 2024: What You Need to Know

The German Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, recently announced that the cost of statutory health insurance in Germany will see an increase starting in 2024. This development is set to affect millions of patients across the country. Here’s what you need to know about the German health insurance costs set to rise in 2024.

Increase in Additional Contributions

As of January 1, 2024, the additional contributions for statutory health insurance will increase by 0.1 percent. This change will bring the total contributions to their highest rate ever, reaching 1.7 percent. Currently, individual health insurers set additional contributions as high as 1.6 percent, while mandatory health insurance contributions remain fixed at 14.6 percent.

However, it’s essential to note that not all insurers choose to charge the maximum additional contribution set by the state. For example, Techniker Krankenkasse currently charges 1.2 percent, while Barmer charges 1.5 percent. Therefore, not everyone with statutory health insurance will experience an increase in costs next year, but some insurers may opt for the additional income.

Impact on Employees and Freelancers

For most individuals in employment, this change means an additional 0.05 percent of their wages will go towards their health insurance, which amounts to an extra 5 cents per €100 earned. The remaining 0.05 percent will be covered by their employers. Freelancers, who typically cover both the employer and employee halves of the contributions, will see an extra 10 cents per €100 directed toward their health insurance.

Customer Rights

Statutory insurance funds are required to inform their customers in advance of any fee increases, granting customers a ‘Sonderkündigungsrecht,’ a special right of termination if they wish to explore other insurance options.

Addressing Financial Deficits

  • The decision to increase additional contributions comes after months of debate concerning how to address the financial challenges facing Germany’s healthcare system. The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic left Health Minister Lauterbach grappling with maintaining the healthcare system’s stability amidst staffing shortages and significant deficits.
  • This year, statutory insurance funds (GKV) are dealing with a historic deficit of €17 billion, and care insurance funds face a €4.5 billion shortfall. In June, Lauterbach announced that price increases were “inevitable.” This was due to Finance Minister Christian Linder’s refusal to raise government subsidies for healthcare this year or the next.
  • To address these challenges, Lauterbach introduced a financial stabilization package. It included increased additional contributions, €14.5 billion in treasury funding, and the enforcement of pharmaceutical discounts on medicines.
  • He firmly ruled out healthcare service cuts. He emphasized the positive impact of the previous year’s Financial Stabilization Act on health insurance contribution stability. The increase in additional contributions is expected to cover at least €1.6 billion of next year’s €3.2 million spending gap.

Mixed Reactions

Despite the necessity of the move to maintain the financial stability of the healthcare system, it has faced criticism. CEO of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), Steffen Kampeter, voiced concerns. He stated that increasing social security contributions might hinder the attractiveness of work. Kampeter stressed the importance of reforming the health and care insurance system. He emphasized that this reform is crucial to maintain confidence in social security, as acceptance may decline without it.

In conclusion, the upcoming rise in health insurance contributions in Germany reflects ongoing healthcare financing challenges. While it may raise costs for some, it’s a necessary step to address financial deficits and ensure the system’s future stability.

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