Experts expect additional contributions from 2013
According to experts, new supplementary contributions will be available to statutory health insurers from 2013 or 2014. In view of the record surpluses, the Federal Ministry of Health nonetheless demands that health insurance companies pay premiums to the insured soon. "At least partial amounts should be paid," warned the Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr at the beginning of the week. Instead, the health insurers want to partially improve the range of services and provide for "bad times". The funds receive support from the Council of Experts. They call for prudence and speak of a current exceptional situation. After all, the cash contributions would increase again in two to three years. The first additional contributions could already be a reality in 2013. "In the second half of 2013 or 2014, a large part of the health insurance companies will again make additional contributions," said Eberhard Wille, Chairman of the Expert Council for Health Care.
Record surpluses like never before The financial situation of the health insurance companies has never been as good as today. Thanks to excellent discount contracts with the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the increase in health insurance contributions, statutory health insurance was able to save around 20 billion euros. In the first quarter of 2012, they were able to raise the financial cushion again to 11 billion euros, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday. There is also a reserve of around 8.5 billion euros in the health fund. Bahr is therefore calling on the health insurance companies to pay out part of the additional income to the approximately 70 million fund members. The health insurance companies could choose whether they "prefer to pay premiums or improve their in-house health services". However, all health insurance companies reject a premium payment.
"Some coffers exceed the legal amount of reserves," said the ministry. "At present, however, only about ten predominantly smaller health insurance companies with around 700,000 insured allow their members to participate in their positive financial development through bonuses." Everyone else keeps the money to themselves.
At the end of last year, the cash reserves were still around 10 billion euros. Another 9.5 billion euros was accumulated in the health fund. In the first quarter of the new year, the cash registers were able to generate an additional 1.5 billion additional revenues. That's an average of 500 million euros more. Most funds were able to manage the surpluses with low expenditure of around 46 billion euros. Although the expenditure per member of the health insurance fund rose by an average of 3.5 percent, in 2011 statisticians had forecast an increase in expenditure of around 4.5 percent in 2012. Most health insurance companies were also able to get very good deals with pharmaceutical producers, and the good economic situation in the past few years has resulted in fewer unemployed people and more fully paying insured people. Although the surpluses would be lower in the current year, the Federal Ministry of Health also expects additional revenue for the full year financial statements, with financial development remaining the same.
Health insurance companies want to save money for bad times The federal chairman of the top health insurance association GKV, Doris Pfeiffer, rejected the demands of the health minister. "We want these reserves to be secured and used for future patient care." After all, the concept of health insurance is different from that of private health insurance. The surpluses are not distributed to shareholders but benefit the insured in order to keep the contributions stable. "Every euro stays with the insured". For example, the unpopular additional contributions could currently be avoided, said Pfeiffer.
Experts: The health insurance funds will soon receive additional contributions to help the marksmen. Health system experts do not share the federal government's positive outlook. Despite the billions of surpluses, health insurance patients will have to prepare for additional contributions and premium increases in the future. They assume that the majority of health insurance companies will have to reintroduce the additional contribution from mid-2013 or at the latest in 2014, as the chairman of the health experts' council, Eberhard Wille in Berlin, said. According to him, the record surpluses are "a temporary phenomenon that will no longer last".
Billions of surpluses only a snapshot The increase in income has to do with the premium adjustments in particular. The black and yellow federal government had raised the regular contribution rate to 15.5 percent in the course of the health care reform. At the time, the government had not assumed that the economy would develop so positively. If you look at the development of premium income from the past ten years, you would find that this development will not last long. When the report was accepted, Minister Bahr was also more reluctant and admitted that the financial situation of the "different health insurers was different". While some would have used up the statutory reserves, others would have gained a large cushion. (sb)
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