Germany sees 'explosive' hike in people needing old-age care

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Germany sees 'explosive' hike in people needing old-age care
A care home in Filderstadt, southern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

It is well known that Germany has an ageing population. But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has expressed alarm at the number of people in need of old-age care, which is far more than predicted.


Lauterbach, of the Social Democrats (SPD) spoke of an "acute problem" when it comes to the long-term care insurance system (Pflegeversicherung) in Germany. 

"For demographic reasons, an increase of only around 50,000 people should have been expected in 2023," he told German media RND. "But the increase is actually over 360,000.

"We don't yet understand exactly why this is the case."

According to Lauterbach, one attempt to explain the rise he described as "explosive" is a so-called "sandwich effect".

"The very old people in need of care are being joined by the first baby boomers, who are now also in need of care," said the minister. For the first time, there are two generations who are dependent on care at the same time - "The baby boomers and their parents," said Lauterbach. 

Due to this situation, the Health Minister said it would be impossible to maintain the level of care services with the current contribution system alone.

But achieving a financial reform in the care sector during this legislative period isn't on the cards. That's because the next federal election takes place next year - in autumn 2025. 

The Health Minister said a working group made up of the various ministries in the current coalition government would struggle to form a uniform recommendation in this time, however, this could be a basis for a major carse reform in the next legislative period.

"But then it has to happen," warned Lauterbach. 

READ ALSO: What foreigners need to know about old-age care in Germany


Will there be a rise in long-term care insurance?

It's looking likely. According to a new study, those insured in the statutory long-term care insurance scheme could soon be facing a further increase in contributions - and sooner than expected.

According to the care report by health insurance provider DAK-Gesundheit, which was presented at the beginning of April, the ever-increasing number of people in need of care in Germany is likely to necessitate a hike as early as the end of this year. 

Last year, the German parliament passed a reform to stabilise the long-term care insurance system. This was supposed to secure the situation until 2025. People with children pay 3.4 percent of their gross income for long-term care, up from 3.05 percent (although it depends on how many children people have). The additional fee for childfree people was increased from 0.35 to 0.6 percentage points to a total of 4 percent of their gross income.

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany's long-term care insurance hikes


In need of care - Pflegebedürftig

Attempt at explanation/attempt to explain - (der) Erklärungsversuch

At the same time - gleichzeitig

Care reform - (die) Pflegereform 

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