Reduction: tax subsidy for health insurance companies



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Government wants to cut tax subsidy for health insurance companies
06.03.2014

The German federal government is planning further cuts in grants for statutory health insurance (SHI) in the billions. The statutory health insurance companies, social organizations, trade unionists and the opposition parties are criticizing this.

Subsidies are cut sharply temporarily The German government plans to temporarily cut the billions in grants to statutory health insurance (SHI) vigorously. The federal grant is to be cut in the coming year by 2.5 to 11.5 billion euros in view of the large financial cushion of the SHI, as the Ministry of Health in Berlin explained. The aim is to achieve a balanced federal budget without new debts. Health insurance companies, social organizations and the opposition criticize the project.

The federal subsidy is to be increased permanently from 2017. According to the Ministry of Health, the SHI has accumulated a cushion of 30.3 billion euros by the end of 2013, of which 13.6 billion with the health fund and 16.7 billion with the health insurance funds. "This is a very solid cushion," said Health Minister Hermann Gröhe (CDU). "We can therefore afford to temporarily make money available from this reserve in 2015 for budget consolidation purposes." As planned, only 10.5 billion euros will flow to health insurance from tax revenue in the current year. 14 billion are planned for 2016 and, according to Gröhe, it has been agreed with Federal Minister of Finance Wolgnag Schäuble (CDU) to increase the federal subsidy “permanently” from 2017 to EUR 14.5 billion.

Health minister and finance minister agree As Gröhe said, he made it clear in the budget negotiations that the money that would be made available in 2015 to relieve the budget had to flow back into the health fund. "I agree with the Minister of Finance." The plans would have no impact on the contributions, as the funds would also have the full 14 billion available from the fund in 2014 and 2015. This should be financed from the fund reserves.

Acceleration program for premium increases Dr. By contrast, Doris Pfeiffer, chairwoman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, warned: "Cutting the federal subsidy would be an acceleration program for increasing contributions." According to previous expert assessments, the members of the health insurance fund can expect additional contributions of around 1.5 percent of their income in three years. As Pfeiffer emphasized, the federal subsidy serves to co-finance non-insurance benefits such as non-contributory insurance for children. The health insurers spend more than 20 billion euros a year on such family benefits.

Criticism from social organizations and trade unions Criticism also came from the Association of Alternative Health Insurance Funds (VDEK), which, among others, represents the two largest health insurers with Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) and Barmer GEK. The head of the association Ulrike Elsner called the cuts "unacceptable" and that they will "increase the financial pressure on the health insurance companies". She also said the plans showed "how arbitrarily the legislature deals with the promised tax subsidies." The Joint Welfare Association called for instead of reaching into the social security funds, the federal government had to finally tax the rich more heavily for budget consolidation and the Social Association Germany (SoVD) threw the government out an “indiscriminate cutback orgy at the expense of the statutory health insured”. There was also criticism from the unions. DGB board member Annelie Buntenbach spoke of a "robbery of the federal government by the coffers of the social insurance institutions."

Opposition parties agree on rejection The opposition parties also spared no criticism. For example, Alliance 90 / The Greens described the government coalition's "budgetary tricks" as shameless. In a statement by the Greens it said: "The only thing is to loosen up the funds for the federal budget quickly." The Liberals also reacted sharply. FDP board member Dr. Volker Wissing said that the cuts were nothing more than a misuse of employees' contributions to state financing. And the health spokesman for the Left Group, Harald Weinberg, said that if the SHI system were withdrawn six billion euros, "the insured would come next." Every year, they have to pay every single euro to their health insurance without the employer's participation. ”These are 120 euros for each of the approximately 50 million contributors. (sb)

Image: Thomas Siepmann / pixelio.de

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