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How German health insurance costs are set to rise from 2024

The Local Germany
The Local Germany - [email protected]
How German health insurance costs are set to rise from 2024
The insurance cards of the health insurance companies DAK, AOK, Barmer and Techniker-Krankenkasse TK lie with euro notes under a stethoscope. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Daniel Karmann

The cost of statutory insurance will rise for millions of patients next year, the German Health Minister has announced.

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From the start of 2024, additional contributions for statutory health insurance will rise by 0.1 percent in Germany, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) revealed this week. 

The move will bring these contributions up to their highest rate ever of 1.7 percent.

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. 

Not every insurer chooses to charge the maximum additional contribution set by the state. For example, Techniker Krankenkasse currently charges 1.2 percent, while Barmer charges 1.5 percent. 

This means that not everyone will statutory health insurance will see an increase in costs next year, but some insurers are likely to opt for the additional income.

For most people in employment, this would mean an extra 0.05 percent of their wages would go to their health insurance - amounting to 5 cents per €100 earned - with the other 0.05 percent covered by their employers.

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I change my German health insurance provider?

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Freelancers, who tend to cover both the employer and employee half of the contributions, would see an extra 10 cents per €100 go towards their health insurance.  

Statutory insurance funds are obliged to notify their customers in advance of any fee increases, with customers then given a 'Sonderkündigungsrecht', or special right of termination. 

Financial deficit

The announced increase in additional contributions comes after months of debate over how to fill the financial black hole in Germany's healthcare system.

In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, Health Minister Lauterbach has been struggling to find ways to keep Germany's healthcare system afloat in the face of limited staff and yawning deficits.

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. 

Back in June, Lauterbach announced that price rises were "inevitable" since Finance Minister Christian Linder (FDP) had refused to raise government subsidies for healthcare this year or next.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) explains his hospital reform plans at a press conference in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

The Social Democrat and former doctor had previously rolled out a financial stabilisation package that included an increase in additional contributions, €14.5 billion of treasury funding and enforcing pharmaceutical discounts on medicines. 

He has repeated ruled out cuts in healthcare services. 

READ ALSO: German health insurance contributions 'to rise in 2024'

Announcing the "minimal" rise in contributions for 2024, Lauterbach said he saw the move as as sign of success.

"Last year's Financial Stabilisation Act has had an effect," he said. "Health insurance contributions will hardly increase at all. This strengthens confidence in the social security systems."

The move is expected to fill at least €1.6 billion of next year's €3.2 million spending gap.

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However, the increase was slammed by Steffen Kampeter, CEO the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA).

"Work should be more attractive and fun in net terms," he told the newspaper. "The rising social security contributions are spoiling this joy."

Without a reform of the health-and care-insurance system, acceptance of the social security systems would dwindle, Kampeter said.

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