Rising health insurance contributions: “Stinginess is cool” brings no solution

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Rising health insurance contributions: “Stinginess is cool” brings no solution

Health insurance contributions are still rising moderately. But in the next few years, insured persons will feel a significant increase in premiums. Reshaping the health insurance system does not change the basic problem. Wolfram-Arnim Candidus of the Bürger Initiative Gesundheit eV instead calls for solidarity from the insured as well.

When it comes to Karl Lauterbach, the Deputy Group Chairman of the SPD, is the introduction of a citizens insurance for health insurance in the upcoming election campaign on the plan. This would have some advantages and disadvantages. But whether they are named in detail by the policy is open. For all too often unpleasant truths are not pronounced clearly. Wolfram-Arnim Candidus, CEO of Bürger Initiative Gesundheit eV, describes, for example, the introduction of the additional contribution in the statutory health insurance as political sham marketing.

Mr Candidus, two years ago, the supplementary contribution to statutory health insurance was introduced. What did you think went wrong?

Wolfram-Arnim Candidus: At that time, the special contribution of 0.9 percent was abolished and replaced by an additional contribution, which is set by the health insurance companies themselves. Already in 2015, it was an average of 0.9 percent in addition to the basic contribution of 14.6 percent. Nevertheless, it was spoken of a reduction in contributions, because it has arrived in the policy that in our society a certain “stinginess is cool” mentality prevails. At the same time, health insurance premiums did not actually fall from 15.5 to 14.6 percent, but remained at the same level in the first year. Now the additional contribution is on average 1.1 percent and it will continue to increase in the next few years. And the worst part is that the workers carry this increase on their own, because the additional contribution is not financed on an equal basis with the involvement of employers.

And you want a half financing?

Wolfram-Arnim Candidus: It would be socially acceptable if the employers take on a percentage of 60 percent and the employees 40 percent, and not just on the additional contribution, but on the entire contribution rate. That would have another big advantage: The health insurance companies could finally minimize their Rationierungswut. Currently, they have to increase contributions and there are still potential savings in performance.

We see this with our citizens’ initiative already: Since the supply catalog of the statutory health insurance includes a certain benefit, but the health insurance refuses this under an excuse to save costs. The insured are in this regard, however, in a deep sleep and do not want to admit that. But if, for example, the sick pay is denied, even though you are sick for months, then for many of us it goes to existence. We then advise, but it is a systemic problem.

How could one awaken the legally insured from their slumber?

Wolfram-Arnim Candidus: If you could get a big ad every two days in the Bild newspaper, then of course the problem would have the due attention. Ultimately, it is the government’s job not to pretend that everything is alright. But the topic is sometimes complex and can not break down on some crisp slogans.

Would there be any alternative to rising health insurance contributions?

Wolfram-Arnim Candidus: According to various reports, contributions will increase by three to four percent over the next 10 to 15 years. At least if the current health insurance system does not change. In the 2013 election campaign was on the part of the SPD, Greens and left civic insurance. This is also the topic again. All would pay in one pot. Incidentally, that would not be inconvenient for the Länder. After all, most of the three million civil servants and retirees are insured in private health insurance. In the course of a citizens’ insurance, the countries could get rid of the subsidy payments, which now burden the state budget enormously. Alone in 2014, it was after all, almost twelve billion euros.

However, the most important component of the insurance landscape is the education of the population as a whole. Citizens must also take ownership to maintain health and prevent disease. Only then can the costs for our health care system and thus also the amount of insurance premiums be reduced or at least kept stable. For this purpose, real incentive systems of the health insurance companies should be obligatory for citizens. Thus everyone has a financial advantage if he can be used constructively for the maintenance or restoration of his health. The political mandate holders of all parties must also continuously point out that the health service is not a self-service store and therefore a solidarity behavior of the citizens must be realized.

Thank you for the interview, Mr Candidus!