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No extra health insurance fees for 2011, Rösler says

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No extra health insurance fees for 2011, Rösler says
Photo: DPA
08:39 CEST+02:00
Germany's statutory health insurers may not have to tack on extra fees for customers in 2011 after all, Health Minister Philipp Rösler said Wednesday, explaining that the government's financial reform plan would make up for an expected health fund deficit.

“Thanks to the planned balanced reform package the average top-up fees could be close to zero for 2011,” the pro-business Free Democrat told daily Rheinische Post, adding that this means the majority of Germans will be spared the extra payments.

Adding fees would then be up to the health insurers themselves, he told the paper.

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.

Due to the flagging economy the government had foreseen a massive funding shortage of €11-billion for the central statutory health care fund in 2011.

“We'll be able to make up for this,” Rösler said.

In early 2010, more than a dozen health insurers already began charging their members such fees, which top out at €37.50 per month.

But the fees have been deeply unpopular, with hundreds of thousands of customers reportedly switching their insurance to avoid them, or simply failing to pay.

DAPD/ka

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