A group of private insurers, including Victoria, Axa and Süddeutsche Krankenversicherung, argued that the health care reform of 2007, which required the firms to sign up all applicants at a so-called basic premium, would destroy the industry.
The basic premium is currently €570 per person per month, and according to the 2007 law, cannot be higher than the average highest premium charged by the publicly supported health insurance system. Private health insurers are also required to accept all applicants, regardless of age or health condition.
Over eight million Germans, about 10 percent of the population, are covered by private health insurance. The remainder are covered by over 200 non-profit health funds which are paid for by individual and employer contributions.
The judges at the Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court disagreed with the private insurers' arguments and said the health care reform law would not harm “the efficiency of private insurance in the future.”
The ruling means that many privately insured Germans can switch to the basic premium from more expensive insurance plans. The ruling is also a victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel's government and Health Minister Ulla Schmidt, who pushed through the reform law in 2007.
Schmidt had argued before the court that the reform was necessary because the private health insurers had been signing up young, health and well-paid members, which raised treatment costs for the public portion of the system.