Germany reports rising number of people without health insurance

There is a growing number of people in Germany without health insurance, according to new data from Germany’s Statistical Office.

Germany reports rising number of people without health insurance
Typical German health insurance cards. Photo: DPA

Last year there were 143,000 people without health insurance in Germany, up from 79,000 in 2015.

A full 90 percent of people in Germany are covered by public health insurance, according to the Germany Medical Association. 

A majority receive it from their employers, although freelancers, students and those making over a certain amount each month often opt out of the public system in favour of private insurance.

READ ALSO: Should Germany get rid of private health insurance?

While having health insurance has been a legal requirement in Germany since January 1, 2009, a number of residents still are not covered.

In western Germany, a total of 117,000 people did not have insurance at the last count, whereas the figure stands at 26,000 in eastern Germany. 

Anyone in Germany who does not have health insurance faces fines of up to 14 months of contributions (at a maximum of €639.38 per month)

Right to medical care

Sabine Zimmerman, a politician from Germany’s Die Linke (Left), called on the federal government to guarantee the right to medical care. 

She proposed the immediate establishment of a fund to finance the treatment of people in Germany without health insurance. 

Yet amid the current coronavirus crisis, pooling extra funds could be a challenge.

Due to the virus, among other things, public health insurers are heading for a deficit of €14.1 to €14.6 billion this year, according to a report in the Tagesspiegel.  

The reason, according to the report, is declining income from contributions combined with significantly rising costs.

The treatment of coronavirus-infected patients is estimated at an additional €1.3 billion for the current year. 

Statutory health insurance funds have also paid €3.3 billion for higher care fees, and so far €1.6 billion for coronavirus tests.

READ ALSO: Germany to expand coronavirus testing for people without symptoms


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Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination.