Health insurers warn of system breakdown

Health insurers warn of system breakdown
Facing a deficit of €11 billion next year, Germany’s statutory health insurers are in such trouble that the whole system is teetering and could collapse, the insurers’ peak body has warned.

“The insurers’ situation is dramatic. This year the health funds are standing on the edge of the abyss. Next year, they will take a step even closer,” said Doris Pfeiffer, head of the Association of Statutory Health Insurers, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.

The problem that has been ignored by successive governments is the runaway costs in the health sector, she said.

Health funds will need to pay out at least 35 percent more this year to hospitals than they did in 1998. Payments to resident doctors have risen more than 40 percent.

“If a fund has a lot of low income-earners, they have to ask all the more of members with higher incomes, which has the effect of driving people away. It’s a vicious circle,” said Pfeiffer.

The overwhelming majority of Germans are covered by one of hundreds of these statutory insurers. The coalition government is urgently debating ways to bring down the costs of health care and keep the insurers financially viable.

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