Public health insurance premiums seen spiking

The 71 million people covered by Germany’s statutory health insurance system may soon be forced to pay up to €840 ($1,195) per year over normal premiums, according to the the head of the state insurance association.

Public health insurance premiums seen spiking
Photo: DPA

Doris Pfeiffer of the GKV association told public broadcaster Deutschlandradio insurers faced spiralling costs from doctors, hospitals and drugs that must be passed onto consumers.

She said people with statutory health insurance could be slapped with special surcharges, or Zusatzbeiträge, of €50 to €70 a month.

“Such sums are conceivable and even required by government policy,” Pfeiffer said.

The grim outlook comes as controversy swirls around the recently bankrupt City BKK insurance company. Its customers, who tended to be older and less healthy, have struggled to find insurance with other statutory insurers, something Pfeiffer said should not be happening.

She said many insurance companies are struggling with increased costs but are afraid to increase required contributions because that might cause an exodus of members, pushing them towards insolvency like City BKK.

Green Party leader Cem Özdemir said Pfeiffer’s forecast showed, “that the health care system is ailing.” Harald Weinberg, with The Left party’s healthcare committee, said: “The time bomb is ticking.”

Germany’s Health Ministry, however, rejected the dire prognosis about surging health insurance costs.

“An increase in additional contributions of this magnitude is not expected in the foreseeable future,” said a spokesman. He added that the government projected health insurance surcharges to remain on average below €10 per month heading into the next year.

DPA/The Local/mdm

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Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

Danish Minister for the Interior and Health Sophie Løhde has warned that, despite increasing activity at hospitals, it will be some time before current waiting lists are reduced.

Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

The message comes as Løhde was set to meet with officials from regional health authorities on Wednesday to discuss the progress of an acute plan for the Danish health system, launched at the end of last year in an effort to reduce a backlog of waiting times which built up during the coronavirus crisis.

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services agreed in February, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

The national organisation for the health authorities, Danske Regioner, said to newspaper Jyllands-Posten earlier this week that progress on clearing the waiting lists was ahead of schedule.

Some 245,300 operations were completed in the first quarter of this year, 10 percent more than in the same period in 2022 and over the agreed number.

Løhde said that the figures show measures from the acute plan are “beginning to work”.

“It’s positive but even though it suggests that the trend is going the right way, we’re far from our goal and it’s important to keep it up so that we get there,” she said.

“I certainly won’t be satisfied until waiting times are brought down,” she said.

“As long as we are in the process of doing postponed operations, we will unfortunately continue to see a further increase [in waiting times],” Løhde said.

“That’s why it’s crucial that we retain a high activity this year and in 2024,” she added.

Although the government set aside 2 billion kroner in total for the plan, the regional authorities expect the portion of that to be spent in 2023 to run out by the end of the summer. They have therefore asked for some of the 2024 spending to be brought forward.

Løhde is so far reluctant to meet that request according to Jyllands-Posten.