Put into Context: Health Insurance Contributions

Research

ZEW Health Economist Dr. Simon Reif on Statutory Health Insurance Financing

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has proposed to reform the financing of the statutory health insurance system in order to close the financing gap without excessively raising health insurance contributions. In the latest episode of the #ZEWPodcast format “Put into Context”, ZEW Health Economist Dr. Simon Reif explains the reform package and evaluates the individual measures.

Put into Context: Health Insurance Contributions (in German only)

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“The basic problem in the German statutory health insurance system is that rising costs are not compensated by rising revenues," says Simon Reif on the premise of the reform proposal. “The draft law is an attempt to make small adjustments in all areas with the aim of increasing revenue while cutting costs.”

While moderately raising health insurance contributions by 0.3 percentage points would burden employers and employees slightly more, the solidarity surcharge of two billion euros paid by the pharmaceutical industry would temporarily reduce costs overall. However, the fundamental question of solidarity-based financing of the health system clearly overrides the reform proposal of the Federal Ministry of Health.

With regard to the redistribution of the financial reserves of the health insurance providers, Reif says: “Those who have built up reserves are now being punished.” Some health insurance providers had managed more efficiently in order to use the funds to develop health care innovations, for example. “Withdrawing these reserves could have a negative impact on providers’ incentives, and besides, this can only be done once.”

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