Non-contributory family insurance rejected

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A spouse's private health insurance prevents family insurance for children

Married couples with one legally and one privately insured parent cannot accommodate their children through the family insurance in the statutory health insurance, according to the current decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. The previous regulation was thus confirmed by the highest judicial decisions.

A woman from Lower Saxony had lodged a constitutional complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court because she wanted to insure her four children with family insurance from her own statutory health insurance company. Both the woman and her husband are employed, whereby the man has a higher income as an independent lawyer and is insured in a private health insurance company. However, it was not possible for the couple to place their children in the non-contributory family insurance. According to the plaintiff, this is an unfair regulation, which also disadvantages married couples, since unmarried parents can have their children insured free of charge at any time via their own statutory health insurance. However, the Federal Constitutional Court saw this differently and rejected the woman's constitutional complaint.

Non-contributory family insurance still excluded Due to the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, children of married couples for whom the better-earning parent is privately insured will continue to be excluded from the free family insurance provided by the statutory health insurance companies. In principle, parents can choose which health insurance they prefer for their children, but in any case, non-contributory family insurance is not possible with the above-mentioned constellation. With four children, as in the case of the applicant, a not inconsiderable financial burden. However, the Federal Constitutional Court stated that this "selective disadvantage" of married couples was acceptable and therefore did not accept the constitutional complaint. The constitutional judges thereby confirmed their verdict from 2003, according to which the different treatment of married and unmarried parents in the family insurance of their children is compatible with the general principle of equality and the fundamental right to marriage and family. Although the judges recognized a slight disadvantage in the regulation of family insurance for married parents, this would be compensated for elsewhere.

Advantages of marital partnerships in health insurance This enables parents in marital partnerships to claim child health insurance contributions on their income tax returns. Spouses also have the option of accommodating spouses with low incomes in the statutory health insurance, free of charge, if the other partner is already legally insured. In principle, marriage-like communities do not have such options. In addition, married parents can hardly complain about unfair treatment against illegitimate parents, so that the "selective legal disadvantage" in family insurance is in the judge's opinion within the legal framework. The verdict of the Federal Constitutional Court from 2003, which basically excludes non-contributory family insurance for children of spouses for whom the better-earning partner is privately insured, can also be understood against the background of possible abuse.

Avoid misuse at the health insurance companies. The idea is obvious that spouses with good earning would otherwise insure themselves as cost-effectively as possible from the private health insurance company, whereas they would have to pay the maximum rate on their income in the statutory health insurance company. The lower-earning spouses would instead take out statutory health insurance and would also place their children here through non-contributory family insurance. This would allow the well-paid couples to further optimize their income, but such acts would also have little in common with justice or equal treatment. The Federal Constitutional Court explained that the non-marital partnerships of child-free family insurance for children have so far been possible so far that the implementation of regulations comparable to those of married couples is simply not manageable. Because for the health insurance companies "it would be a de facto impossible task to continuously check whether such a cohabitation exists, still exists or whether it exists again", said the constitutional judge. (fp)

(Ref .: Federal Constitutional Court 1 BvR 429/11)

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Photo credit: Stephanie Hofschlaeger /

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