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The health insurance companies have to save: In future there will only be one AOK for Hesse, Saxony and Thuringia. The fourth largest statutory health insurance fund in Germany, "AOK PLUS", is the result.
(June 27th, 2010) Apparently, the fear of the health insurances about a possible insolvency drives the merger. The board members of the general local health insurance companies AOK Hessen and AOK plus Saxony-Thuringia decided at a top meeting to merge the two large AOK health insurance companies. The new "AOK plus" will be based in Dresden for a total of three federal states. The previous AOK locations in Bad Homburg and Erfurt will initially be retained. The number of board members will also remain the same, in the future three board members will have said this in the AOK network. The merger is scheduled for January 1, 2011. The new health insurance company is then called "AOK plus".
With 4.2 million members, the AOK plus is the fourth largest statutory health insurance in Germany. Barmer GEK remains in first place with around 8.5 million insured. This is followed by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) with around 7.5 million and the Deutsche Angenken Krankenkasse (DAK) with around 6.4 million members. According to the GKV association, 169 health insurance funds have existed since the beginning of the year. In the course of the planned mergers also of other health insurance companies, this number should soon be minimized. Due to financial problems, other health insurance companies are also planning mergers to better alleviate possible bottlenecks. Because the financial hardship of the health insurance companies is much greater than previously thought.
A spokesman for the AOK Hessen, however, emphasized that the planned merger did not arise from a current emergency. It was checked beforehand which cash registers would fit "organizationally and structurally". The two health insurance companies would merge in order to "cope with the increasingly complex tasks of statutory health insurance companies". In the future, however, they don't want to enter into a partnership with other AOK health insurance companies.
This would prevent possible additional contributions from the insured. Viktor Bernecker told AOK Plus: "As the fourth largest German health insurance company, we will achieve greater health-political weight on the national stage. Due to our stable financial situation, we can go into 2011 without any additional contribution". The merger is hoped for "synergies". A reduction in personnel through the merger of the cash registers is not planned. After all, around 3800 employees work at AOK Hessen, after the merger there will be a total of 8500 employees who work for AOK PLUS. The previous 150 locations of the AOK branches are also not to be reduced. These remain, as a spokesman for the AOK Hessen emphasized.
What does the merger of the AOK health insurance companies mean for the insured?
First of all, it was announced that no additional contributions are planned for 2011. The previous insurance cards remain valid and do not have to be exchanged until the validity period has expired. This usually happens automatically. Through the merger, both health insurance companies hope for better service for members without "having to increase administrative costs".
The AOK Hessen and AOK Thuringia-Saxony are not the only health insurance companies that merged. Last year alone, 33 health insurers merged. The financial pressure on the cash register continues to increase, so that further mergers can be expected. Larger health insurance companies can react better to financial bottlenecks than small health insurers. That should be the main reason for the merger. (sb)
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