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If we don't act, the additional contribution will increase by up to 2.5 percentage points

In addition to the high burden on citizens due to drastically increased gas and electricity prices, the approximately 74 million people with statutory health insurance are soon threatened with a veritable tsunami of contributions, with the individual contribution waves threatening to increase every year.

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If we don't act, the additional contribution will increase by up to 2.5 percentage points

In addition to the high burden on citizens due to drastically increased gas and electricity prices, the approximately 74 million people with statutory health insurance are soon threatened with a veritable tsunami of contributions, with the individual contribution waves threatening to increase every year. This is due to the 17 billion euro deficit in the statutory health insurance system (GKV), which, according to estimates by well-known economic research institutes, is more likely to be around 25 billion euros.

The GKV Financial Stabilization Act presented by the federal government turns out to be a savings law that, with a hodgepodge of uncoordinated individual measures, has the sole aim of temporarily balancing out the deficit for 2023. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach avoids bold, long-term reform steps with corresponding savings potential.

In some cases, the medical care of patients in Germany will even deteriorate significantly: The cancellation of the flat rate for new patients will increase the waiting time for a specialist appointment. The budget-related reduction in dental care - for example in the treatment of periodontitis - reduces dental health. And the savings at the pharmacies will further thin out the local supply of important medicines. The damage from these and other ill-considered cuts is likely to cost us more in the long run than it will bring in short-term financial benefits.

In addition, contributors and employers will be charged an additional contribution of 0.3 (statement from the federal government) to 0.5 percentage points (probable scenario from experts) in 2023 and without further reforms in 2024 and 2025 by at least one percentage point each. These are anticipated increases in additional contributions of up to 2.5 percentage points. The wave of stress will increase every year if sustainable reforms are not implemented soon.

However, the demanded by some to increase the contribution assessment limit from currently 4837.50 euros per month to the level of the pension insurance scheme of currently 7050 euros per month is not an appropriate and fair solution to the problem. The contribution for the health and nursing care insurance for GKV-insured persons with an income in the amount of the contribution assessment limit would rise significantly from 933 euros per month to a total of 1361 euros.

The result would be another heavy burden for the middle class, which is already drained. Thus, through the back door, a de facto compulsive citizenship insurance would be created for employees and the financing problem would be passed on to those affected unilaterally. With good reason, the CDU and CSU have therefore agreed in their joint election program for the 2021 federal election to reject “standard insurance and steps towards it”.

Rather, it is time to reduce the VAT rate on pharmaceuticals from 19 to 7 percent. It is incomprehensible why staple foods and even books or tampons are taxed at the reduced VAT rate of seven percent, while essential medicines are taxed at 19 percent. This is logically inexplicable and simply inappropriate. The reduced tax rate has long been a reality in most neighboring European countries.

In addition, the federal government must meet its obligation to pay its full share of the costs of health insurance for recipients of unemployment benefit II. According to calculations by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, these two measures alone would save the GKV or the health fund around 16 billion euros a year - almost making up for the shortfall that is forecast for 2023.

We can also save sensibly and in the long term through real structural reforms in the hospitals, which are worthy of the name. At over 37 percent, these are the largest block of expenditure in the healthcare system, prompt reform of the clinic is essential.

It is incomprehensible that Minister Lauterbach is unnecessarily delaying rapid hospital reforms by setting up a commission of experts, although sensible concepts have long been in place. We don't have a conceptual problem in this area, we have an implementation problem.

The aim must be, on the one hand, to ensure emergency and basic care close to home, but on the other hand to concentrate specializations and more extensive interventions in centers that are optimally equipped for this purpose. However, the current financing system does not allow this. With a financial reform in the clinic sector, which enables the smaller hospitals in rural areas to fulfill their basic service mandate by means of maintenance costs and at the same time guarantees the highest quality in clinical centers, we not only improve hospital care, but can also save a lot of money for the statutory health insurance system.

We need real, long-term measures immediately and not just short-term patching up, as the federal government currently wants to practice. Minister of Health Lauterbach must finally move from announcing to implementing mode for sustainable reforms. For this he has the support of the CSU and the CDU as a constructive working parliamentary opposition.

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