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Germans flout extra health insurance fees

DDP/The Local · 17 Aug 2010, 08:38

Published: 17 Aug 2010 08:38 GMT+02:00

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German law allows health insurers to charge customers extra fees when they can’t make do with the money doled out for each customer by the government's central statutory health care fund. In early 2010, more than a dozen health insurers began charging their members such fees, which top out at €37.50 per month.

In March, hundreds of thousands of Germans reportedly began switching health insurers to avoid such fees, but some have apparently opted to simply not pay, according to a poll by daily Bild.

Depending on the health insurer, up to 30 percent of customers have not paid their share of the recent increases, the paper said.

Some 10 percent of the 4.6 million people covered by popular insurer DAK have yet to make the payment. And insurer KKH-Allianz still has outstanding payments from just over 10 percent of its insured.

The highest rate of failed payments belongs to BKK, where some 30 percent of customers have ignored the extra fees. Currently BKK is encouraging payment via letter and telephone, the company told Bild.

Germany’s public health care system instituted a new universal premium in January 2009. Set at 15.5 percent of an individual's gross pay, it has turned out to be insufficient to cover the budgets of many of the country's statutory insurers, thus the extra fees.

Switching insurers may not help customers avoid extra fees for long, though.

Story continues below…

In March Health Minister Philipp Rösler said he plans to tack a monthly per capita premium of €29 on health insurance beginning in 2011 to make up for chronic deficits. The fee would be paid by every person who is publicly insured, meanwhile employers and employees would continue to pay equal parts of insurance fees.

According to Health Ministry estimations, public insurers face a deficit of around €11 billion for 2011 due to the flagging economy.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:15 August 17, 2010 by maxbrando
You Germans are such fools. Yet you have the nerve to critisize the USA. Hah! You are a lot more broke than the USA.
10:54 August 17, 2010 by 9900lawre
So if this is law to pay it, does that mean your insurer can take you to court for not supporting the extra costs? Or worse refuse treatment and then send you to jail?

A system like this seems to encourage the insurer to put a bill in the customers hand before looking in it's own purse and profits.
17:40 August 17, 2010 by locry
@ maxbrando,

... and yet health care in Germany, and in most other EU countries, is easily accessible by everyone regardless of how thick their wallets are...
20:55 August 18, 2010 by ngwanem
@maxbrando - i'm always amused by this american way of thinking...

hat does a person gain to be so wealthy yeath his health is at peril? i mean c'mon there are relatively rich people in the USA who accrued debts because of your very expensive inefficient health service, while people in Europe although not gaining not quite much a salary, are at least living healthier lifestyles!

...Well i recommend you to continue eating your super-sized hamburgers and stay happy with what you have...ehm..urr you have at least an option in the USA don't get insured and pray not to fall sick!
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