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Health insurance reserves continue to rise

Health insurance reserves continue to rise

Growing surplus with health insurance companies in the billions

The financial reserves of the health insurance company continue to increase. According to media reports, the surplus at the replacement and local health insurance funds increased again by one billion euros. The figures for the company and guild health insurances were not yet available, but one can expect a similarly positive development. The abolition of the practice fee decided by the Bundestag at the beginning of November should therefore not pose any particular financial burden for the health insurance companies.

Both the medical profession and the pharmacist associations had complained in the fee dispute with the statutory health insurers in view of the billions in surpluses in the insurance companies that health insurance companies were not savings banks, but should instead invest the excess money in patient care. The quarterly figures published by the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) of the replacement and local health insurance companies and the miners are likely to have an effect on the mill of the critics here. Because the surplus of the above-mentioned health insurance companies rose again in the third quarter of 2012 by around one billion euros, reports the "FAZ", referring to circles of health insurance companies.

Health insurance surplus rises again by one billion euros In the first half of 2012, statutory health insurers already saw an increase in financial reserves of 2.7 billion euros to a total of 21.8 billion euros. The allocations from the health fund introduced in 2009 to the individual health insurance companies were therefore significantly higher than the expenses of the insurance companies. This drastic surplus prompted politicians to decide to abolish the practice fee. As of next year, insured persons will no longer have to pay ten euros per quarter when they visit the doctor. Health insurance companies lose around two billion euros in revenue a year in this way, but given the surpluses recorded, this is unlikely to pose an existential threat to health insurance companies. In fact, positive financial developments at the health insurance companies can be expected for 2013 as well. Especially since the health fund itself will generate a surplus of 12 billion euros by the end of the year, according to the estimates of the statutory health insurance.

Demands by doctors and pharmacists in view of the surpluses of the health insurance funds In view of the surpluses in the health care system, there is an increasing demand for service providers in the health system for a significant adjustment in fees. For example, the doctors have already had a violent fee dispute with the health insurance companies, which has resulted in an arbitration award, and the pharmacists are currently debating the insurance companies about the appropriate amount of the compulsory discount to be paid. So far, the health insurance companies have shown little flexibility in the negotiations, probably also because many of those responsible still remember the extremely difficult financial years in the past. Such high surpluses are a completely new experience for them.

Health insurance companies still under pressure to save? It should also be borne in mind that if the health insurance companies made particularly generous concessions to the service providers, the reserves would be used up relatively quickly. In addition, the health insurance companies expect considerable cost increases in the course of the demographic change in the coming years or decades and therefore hardly seem willing to distribute the current surpluses completely to the service providers of the health system or to the patients. However, some health insurance companies, such as Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), which is in particularly good financial standing, have already announced that part of the surpluses will be passed on to the insured as premiums. (fp)

Also read:
Dispute over high surpluses of the health insurance companies

Image: Thorsten Freyer / pixelio.de

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