IIn the debate about higher health insurance contributions, the Greens in the Bundestag brought an increase in the contribution assessment ceiling into play. “We have to create more solidarity in the system,” said the Green health expert Janosch Dahmen of the dpa news agency in Berlin. “Strong shoulders should take on more responsibility for the community in times of crisis,” said Dahmen. “Raising the contribution assessment ceiling should no longer be a taboo.”
In 2022, the contribution assessment limit in statutory health insurance will be EUR 58,050 per year (EUR 4837.50 per month). An employee’s income is subject to contributions up to the contribution assessment limit; everything above that is non-contributory.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) announced on Tuesday that the average additional contribution in health insurance would probably increase by 0.3 percentage points in 2023. This is expected to bring in between 4.8 and 5 billion euros. The average additional contribution is currently 1.3 percent. Together with the general contribution rate of currently 14.6 percent, 16.2 percent of the gross salary would have to be paid for health insurance.
Criticism of Lauterbach’s proposals
Dahmen said: “The statutory health insurance needs higher income, at the same time many contributors need relief.” He stated: “We cannot expect the majority of people to have higher health insurance contributions in the near future.” The coalition agreement does not contain an increase in the contribution assessment ceiling. “But at that time we were not yet able to foresee the enormous price controls,” says Dahmen.
“The state must improve the income side of statutory health insurance so that in the end the contributors do not plug the gaps.” Dahmen therefore also called for state subsidies for Hartz 4 recipients and refugees from Ukraine to be increased.
Lauterbach’s proposals – in addition to a higher additional contribution, there should be a higher tax subsidy and a loan from the federal government in the amount of one billion euros – met with a lot of criticism. The general manager of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, Steffen Kampeter, described the plans as “disappointing”. They were only of limited use in stabilizing the finances of statutory health insurance. “Instead of taking strong countermeasures with sustainable structural reforms and spending-limiting measures, the contributors should be burdened more and borrowed in the future through loans,” he said.
The CEO of the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit, Andreas Storm, told the “Bild” newspaper that Lauterbach had addressed a structural underfunding of the statutory health insurance itself, but wanted to solve half of the deficit with one-off measures. As a result, the insured are threatened with the next increase in 2024. The CSU health expert Stephan Pilsinger took the same line in the “Augsburger Allgemeine”: “The sometimes confused individual measures will not lead to the foreseeable contribution tsunami being stopped,” he said.
Lauterbach had shifted the responsibility for the impending billion-dollar deficit in statutory health insurance – in the coming year it would amount to 17 billion euros without countermeasures – to his predecessor Jens Spahn (CDU). This made expensive expansion of services and refrained from structural reforms.