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German health insurance contributions 'to rise in 2024'

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German health insurance contributions 'to rise in 2024'
Health insurance cards from statutory insurer AOK. German health insurance will pay your medical bills, including sick pay for up to 78 weeks. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has said people will have to pay more for their health insurance in 2024 in order to plug financial gaps in the ailing health service.


In an interview with RND, Lauterbach said he had ruled out cuts in patient services and was therefore looking at a minor increase to health insurance premiums to bolster the health insurance funds. 

"Finance Minister Christian Lindner has made it clear that tax subsidies to statutory health insurance cannot be increased," Lauterbach told RND. "With me, there will be no cuts in services. The contribution rate to statutory health insurance will therefore have to rise slightly again next year."

In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the SPD politician has been struggling to find ways to keep Germany's healthcare system afloat.

This year, the statutory insurance funds (GKV) are facing a historic deficit of €17 billion, with care insurance funds also battling a €4.5 shortfall. 

To tackle this issue, Lauterbach announced a suite of emergency measures at the start of the year. These included allowing health insurance funds to voluntarily raise additional contributions, injecting €14.5 billion of treasury funding into the GKV and enforcing pharmaceutical discounts on medicines. 

READ ALSO: Will health insurance costs go up again in Germany?

However, in spite of the measures, experts predict that the GKV will still need an additional €7 billion in funding to keep their heads above water in 2024.

'Burden high earners'

Back in May, politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens - the two largest parties in the traffic-light coalition - said higher earners should be asked to contribute more to the healthcare system.

In particular, the centre-left parties want to raise the income threshold at which someone can switch from mandatory statutory health insurance (through their employer) to private insurance.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach SPD

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at an event run by the Social Affairs Association in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

"This would mean significant additional income for the statutory health insurance and - unlike higher contribution rates - would only burden high earners," Maria Klein-Schmeink, vice chair of the Greens' parliamentary group, told Handesblatt at the time. 

READ ALSO: Could it soon get harder to get private health insurance in Germany?


However, opposition from the centre-right Free Democrats (FDP) - the third party in the traffic-light coalition - appears to have scuppered these plans for now. 

Though it's unclear how much contributions will go up by, experts estimate that without additional measures, an increase to mandatory contributions of between 0.2 and 0.4 percent would be required to plug the €7 billion hole. 

Currently, mandatory health insurance contributions are set at 14.6 percent and additional contributions (which are set by the health insurer) can be up to 1.6 percent. 

These costs are divided equally between the employee and employer, or covered entirely by self-employed people and freelancers. 


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