Thursday, September 29, 2022

How Lauterbach Wants to Plug the Billion Hole

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Health insurers are expected to suffer losses of €17 billion this year. Health Minister Lauterbach has presented his ideas to the Bundestag on how this financial gap should be closed. Insured persons should prepare for higher premiums.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has defended plans to close the billion-dollar gap in statutory health insurance next year. SPD politicians, when introducing the bill to Congress, said raising the premium rate on the employee side would not pay the majority.

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The expected 0.3 percentage point increase is reasonable and not unfair. “All employers pay half, as opposed to taxes.” The minister reiterated that health care financial reserves should be addressed first, without cutting insurance benefits.

The Cabinet-decided financial package aims to absorb the €17bn negative forecast. Specifically planned are:

  • Higher Additional Contribution: Part of the deficit will be covered by raising additional contributions from private health insurance companies. Lauterbach expects this to increase by an average of 0.3 percentage points. Half of this is paid by the insured person and the other half by the employer. However, the average additional contribution amount is only an arithmetic figure based on the health insurance fund’s estimated financial requirements. Individual funds will independently decide whether and by how much to increase their additional contributions.
  • Additional funding from the federal government: Federal subsidies, currently at €14.5 billion, will increase by €2 billion next year. The federal government has also granted GKV his €1 billion interest-free loan to the Health Fund for 2023.
  • Out-of-pocket funds: Health insurers must also make a solidarity contribution of €4 billion from reserves. In addition, his €2.4 billion funding from the Health Fund will be used.
  • Reduced drug prices: The manufacturer’s discount rate that pharmaceutical companies must grant to legal funding for patent-protected drugs will be increased from 7% to 12% for one year. The pharmacy discount of €1.77 per drug pack will increase to €2 in 2 years. This gives health insurance companies higher discounts on prescription drugs. The moratorium on drug price increases will be extended until the end of 2026. “In the event of an unauthorized attack, we will stand up to pressure from the lobby,” declared Lauterbach in a discussion on this point.
  • Physician Compensation Restrictions: The top-up fees that physicians receive for new patients will be abolished. So far they have received an off-budget quota. Dentist fee increases are also limited.
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Throughout the legislative period, the principle that benefits should not be cut remains unwavering. In terms of “efficient reserves,” Lauterbach explained that funds with large reserves have significantly increased pension provisions for board members. There is also a cash register where “members of the board earn considerably more than the Chancellor”. Double billing for care services in clinics should be eliminated.

Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Horeczek sharply criticized the plan, speaking of “destabilization laws”. If the contribution increases, it doesn’t bode well for people. Skimming health insurance companies is the wrong way to go. “You’re headed for a supply outage,” a CSU politician told Lauterbach. “You can sugar coat it any way you like.”

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Instead of a planned increase in contributions, we need higher federal subsidies, Holetschek said. In this context, Holreczyk accused Lauterbach of not asserting himself enough. “The truth is that health policy is made either by the Minister of Justice or by the Minister of Finance,” said Holrecek, also considering the new Infection Protection Act, in which the Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann had a great deal of influence. said.

Skimming the reserves of health insurance companies is also the wrong way to go. They are no longer even willing to fund the Lauterbach health kiosk project. “It must make you think,” Holreczyk said to Lauterbach.

The social organization VdK also opposed the planned increase in donations. “It will be a particularly deadly signal at the moment,” said association president Verena Bentelé. “Low-income people, in particular, are suffering badly from high inflation and rising energy prices,” she said.

Source: N-TV

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