Medical president expects rising health insurance contributions



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Premium increase despite billions in surplus in the health fund

Despite the looming billions in surplus in the health fund, the president of the Federal Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has set the population on increasing health insurance contributions. Montgomery rejected the possible contribution reductions currently under discussion. "This discussion is absurd and only due to short-term political land gains," said the President of the German Medical Association.

Due to the unexpectedly good economic development, the health fund currently shows a surplus, which according to the Federal Insurance Office is expected to increase to around 6.8 billion euros by the end of the year. While politicians are already discussing possible reductions in the statutory health insurance contribution rate in view of the surplus funds, the President of the German Medical Association has clearly spoken out against such a reduction and instead prepared the insured for further increases in contributions.

Contribution cuts rejected, adjustment of doctor's fees required Although the health fund is expected to close with a significant surplus at the end of the year, contribution reductions are not an option given the cost increases in the health system, said Frank Ulrich Montgomery. As the "main reason for higher expenditure", the President of the German Medical Association cited medical progress and "the increasing number of elderly patients" to Ulm's "Südwest Presse". In today's health care system, "we will inevitably get higher health insurance contributions, and we have to think about that in the long term," Montgomery said. According to the President of the German Medical Association, the fees of the resident doctors are also due to be adjusted, since the medical profession has suffered up to 50 percent loss of purchasing power in the past 30 years. This was "to catch up in part," emphasized Montgomery. In addition, the bureaucratic effort for the doctors must be reduced again and the working hours and working conditions should be improved overall, said the President of the German Medical Association. The doctors initially rely on "sensible discussions with politicians," but Montgomery also hopes for support from the population. "If people realize that doctors are dissatisfied, they will question political decisions," said the President of the German Medical Association.

No scope for cuts in statutory health insurance premiums The President of the Federal Insurance Office, Maximilian Gassner, had already expressed at the beginning of July with regard to possible reductions in premiums and stressed that, in his view, there was no scope for a reduction in health insurance contributions. Because of the approximately 6.8 billion euros, two billion euros have already been earmarked for the hardship provision for the additional contributions and three billion euros for the statutory reserve. In addition, 2.48 billion euros would be needed to correct the deficit that arose in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis, Gassner had said. This means that there are hardly any free funds that would be available to reduce the premium, the President of the Federal Insurance Office explained earlier this month.

Federal Minister of Health: Increase health fund reserves The Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr (FDP) unexpectedly spoke out in mid-June against using the surpluses of the health fund to reduce contributions. Instead of using the free funds to lower the contribution rates, the Federal Minister of Health wants the funds to remain in the health fund as a reserve for worse economic times. According to the Federal Minister of Health, it would be nonsensical to "lower the contribution rate in statutory health insurance only minimally in order to have to raise it again in the next economic fluctuation". The minister added that this legislative period started with a billion deficit in the health fund and he was pleased "that we now have a small buffer with around 180 billion euros in total expenditure."

Contribution increases currently not an issue in politics But the issue has not yet been finally decided in the government coalition, because the CSU signaled that, in its view at least in the medium term, contribution reductions would be a conceivable option for using the revenue surpluses. The statements of the President of the German Medical Association are therefore of little use to the CSU. However, the Federal Minister of Health has not yet felt obliged to prepare the insured for further possible increases in premiums. Daniel Bahr advocated using the surplus to top up the health fund's reserves, and the Federal Minister of Health probably shares Montgomery's view that the discussion about reducing contributions is absurd and only due to short-term political land gains. However, further increases in contributions are not an issue for the Federal Minister of Health - unlike the President of the Federal Medical Association - in the current encouraging revenue trend. (fp)

Read also on the subject of cash contributions:
Billion surplus in the health fund
Daniel Bahr refuses to reduce the cash contributions
Exaggerated savings efforts by health insurance companies

Photo credit: Thommy Weiss / pixelio.de

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