Cash contributions: Federal government plans to abolish usury interest on defaulting contributors
Hundreds of thousands of insured persons are heavily indebted to their health insurance in Germany. They can no longer pay their contributions. The reason for this is the escalating usury interest that the health insurers have to charge due to the legal situation. The Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr (FDP) wants to put these to the test and abolish them.
It should be good news for highly indebted health insurers. According to a press report, the black and yellow federal government plans to help hundreds of thousands of debtors from private and statutory health insurance companies. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported that Bahr proposes to abolish the usury interest of up to 60 percent with the health insurance companies. In addition, a so-called "emergency tariff should be introduced in private health insurance (PKV), which should not cost more than 100 euros per month". With these measures, the coalition wants to prevent a further progression of the mountain of debt.
Interest rates almost higher than debt
Daniel S. started his own business three years ago. But the business is not going well and the income is missing. He has not been able to pay his statutory health insurance for six months. But that's not all. "On top of that there are so-called default surcharges". So it happens that the actual backlog doubles, even triples. "I don't see any chance of getting out of the debt swamp at the moment." And Daniel S cannot throw the health insurance out of the cash register either. "There is a health insurance obligation in Germany".
According to the newspaper, the Federal Ministry of Health is currently working on a bill. The rough draft is currently being coordinated with the individual departments. The schedule stipulates that the law should be passed before the general election in September. "The current regulations have not led to an improved situation," says the ministry.
According to the leading association of private health insurance companies, around 150,000 private insured persons are currently unable to pay their contribution or can only pay it incompletely. Already in autumn 2011, the arrears amounted to around half a billion euros. The statutory health insurers alone put the backlog of voluntarily insured self-employed at around 1.5 billion euros. In total, there are even 4.5 billion euros including interest. A spokesman for the entire association of health insurance companies said: "The payment arrears often accumulate in the five-digit amount". Because in addition to the actual arrears, there are also the default surcharges. Many see themselves as being overwhelmed by the debt burden. Therefore, according to media information, the surcharge should be minimized from five to one percent per month. However, health insurance companies should not be allowed to cancel.
Health insurers welcome draft law
The Federal Government's projects were met with open ears by the PKV and the health insurance companies. Volker Leienbach, Chairman of the Association of Private Health Insurers, welcomed the Minister of Health's advance. Finally a law would be created that would actually help the debtors. Florin Lanz from the General Association of Health Insurance Companies (GKV) told the FAZ that it would help everyone if the health insurance companies were no longer forced to charge such high interest rates. (sb)
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