Health insurance companies: premium increases will come

In spite of the good economic situation, premium increases cannot be avoided at the statutory health insurance companies. The AOK continues to predict a deficit of around 11 billion euros in the health fund.

(10.09.2010) According to the chairman of the AOK federal association, Herbert Reichelt, premium increases at the statutory health insurance funds are inevitable despite the good economic situation in Germany. The planned increase in the contribution from the health insurers is still urgently needed, said the head of the AOK federal association. The amounts are expected to increase to 15.5 percent for insured patients from January 2011. The unloved additional contributions will also be available in some health insurance funds in 2011.

The economy appears to have recovered from the global financial crisis. There are fewer and fewer unemployed people and exports have started again. But the health insurers are still empty. Nevertheless, the planned increase in health insurance contributions to 15.5 percent is urgently necessary because, despite economic growth, the health system lacks around eleven billion euros in 2011, argued AOK boss Reichelt. Because an upswing in the economy only becomes noticeable after major delays in health insurance. "At the moment everyone is assuming that these eleven billion are realistic," said the AOK boss. The cash register wants to present exact numbers in the coming week.

Despite the good economy, health insurance premium increases
Due to the billion deficit in the health fund, the premium must increase by 0.6 percentage points. This is because the increase will bring the box office a total of around six billion euros in additional revenue. "The increase in premium cannot be avoided at the moment," said Reichelt. "Otherwise, countermeasures would have had to be taken earlier and cost control measures introduced earlier." The alternative would be additional contributions to all health insurance funds, argued the AOK federal chairman. However, by increasing the health insurance contributions, such additional contributions are avoided across the board.

Citizens disagree with health reform plans
The premium increases are to be implemented in the course of the planned health care reform. The citizens seem to disagree with the health reform at all. According to a survey submitted by the Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK), more than every second German rejects government plans in the health system. Because the insured face higher health care costs. The Federal Ministry of Health also plans to strengthen private health insurance significantly - at the expense of the statutory health insurers. In addition, numerous health insurance companies require so-called additional contributions from their members. From 2011, the amount of the additional contributions should also be determined by the health insurance companies themselves. That means in plain text that the citizens will have to pay much higher health care costs.

Criticism of the planned changes also comes from the ranks of the federal government. The CSU also disagrees with numerous changes. There were repeated disputes within the coalition. The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the German Hospital Society each run against at least some aspects of the Sturm reform.

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Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler sticks to the plans for the reform.
But the Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler (FDP) wants to stick to his plans and is not put off by the course. "It remains what the party leaders and fraction leaders of the coalition together with the Federal Ministry of Health got on the way," the minister told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Despite the clear criticism from the CSU, no further meetings with coalition party and parliamentary group leaders were to be held. Rösler made it clear that he wanted to stick to the planned change in the system for financing in the healthcare system and the planned additional flat-rate contributions.

However, the results of the AOK survey clearly show that Rösler has by no means the majority of citizens. New details of health reform are becoming known again and again. The path shows with almost all innovation plans in the privatization of health care. For this reason too, more and more people are skeptical about the policy of the Federal Minister of Health. The additional contributions continue to be met with skepticism among people. According to a study by the AOK Scientific Institute (WidO), a total of 57.1 percent found the plans for health care reform to be poor or even very bad. Only a small proportion of respondents, 11.9 percent, think the reform plans are good or very good. 35.2 percent could not quite make up their minds and find the health care reform partly good, partly bad.

Relative satisfaction with the current health care system
Overall, there is a relative satisfaction with the health system. 29.3 percent of the survey participants are satisfied or very satisfied with the system. About the same number, 29.8 percent, are dissatisfied overall. 39.5 percent answered "partly satisfied, partly unsatisfied" to this question. 31.9 percent indicated that personal health insurance coverage had deteriorated in recent years, 56.1 percent could see no deterioration or improvement. However, 59.3 percent expect the health offer of health insurance companies to decrease in the future.

Unnecessary treatments by the doctor?
The AOK survey also asked about satisfaction with visits to the doctor. 82.5 percent stated that they are generally satisfied with the treatment by the doctor. But one in ten also believes that some treatments and examinations were unnecessary. In the case of health insurance patients, 8.1 percent believed that an unnecessary examination was necessary, and in the case of private health insurers, it was as much as 17.5 percent. You have to know that examinations of private patients generally bring a higher fee.

On average, one in five patients stated that they believed that they had not been thoroughly examined medically, were not involved in treatment decisions, and had not been informed about alternative treatment options. Another 24.1 percent said the medical professional had not examined all possible causes of the health problem thoroughly enough. Nevertheless, the majority (92.1 percent) have confidence in the doctor treating them. 88.1 percent of the survey participants also said that they had made an appointment quickly enough. 29.5 stated that the waiting time was too long. As part of the study, 3,000 citizens were interviewed by the AOK scientific institute. (sb)

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