Private health insurance premium increases of up to eight percent?

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Do those insured in private health insurance have to adjust to premium increases? As a result of the global economic crisis, interest rates on the markets collapsed massively. Ten out of a total of 46 private health insurances seem to have problems with fully securing their old-age provisions. A widespread increase in private health insurance premiums of up to eight percent could result in the future.

Everyone is talking about the premium increases and additional contributions from statutory health insurances planned in the course of the health reform. In this context, the Federal Ministry of Health wants to simplify the entry requirements for those with statutory health insurance in private health insurance (PKV). The private insurance providers lure with an allegedly stable financial situation. But in the opinion of health economists, premium increases can no longer be ruled out for private health insurance either. The economic and financial crisis has seriously shaken private health insurance in Germany. Experts believe that premium increases of up to eight percent can no longer be ruled out. According to media reports, ten out of 46 private health insurers are having problems meeting the promised interest rate for retirement provisions.

The bad interest rate development has consequences for the pension provision within the private health insurance
Private health insurance is also subject to demographic change in our society. People are getting older and with increasing age, health care is becoming more and more important for people. This inevitably increases spending in the health system, for private health insurance and statutory health insurance alike. The private health insurances, however, always boasted that, unlike the statutory health insurances, they had an economically oriented system that guaranteed care for the insured and excluded high premium increases. But it is precisely this system that is currently causing severe problems for private health insurance. Interest rate developments are subject to strong fluctuations due to the economic crisis. Interest rates are currently at a low point. This has a massive impact on the PKV balance sheets. This is particularly noticeable in the retirement provision. Due to the collapsed interest rates, insurers are forced to use a portion of the regular contributions to secure their customers' old age. In this way, the health insurance protection for older insured persons is to be maintained and affordable in any case.

On the other hand, the provisions must bear interest at a fixed rate. The maximum limit of the interest rate is set by the Federal Ministry of Finance. This is to prevent the companies with speculative interest calculations from making dishonest PKV lure offers. The current maximum technical interest rate has been 3.5 percent for a long time. But due to the extremely low interest rate trend, insurers are currently only getting around 2.5 percent from so-called government bonds. And this is exactly where the financial discrepancy arises, because the PKV guarantees its members an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the provisions. According to the economic-political newspaper "Financial Times Deutschland", around ten private health insurance providers are currently having problems keeping the promised interest rate. The only way out that seems sensible would be an interest rate cut to a maximum of three percent. However, as a result of the reduced calculation options, insurance companies would be forced to revise their calculation bases. The old-age provisions are then no longer sufficient, however, so that all providers of private health insurance would have to increase their contributions in order to guarantee old-age security.

Private health insurances are resisting a nationwide premium increase
Most competing private health insurance providers face a strong defense against this. Because actually you want to score points with the statutory health insurance with the lowest possible contributions and supposedly better services. If the interest rate were to be lowered, all companies would be equally affected, regardless of their own financial situation. The consequences for private health insurance in Germany would be incalculable, because everyone would have to gradually increase their contributions. Although the black and yellow federal government promises numerous benefits for private health insurance in the coming year, private health insurance would have to increase its contributions across the board. The ailing private health insurance providers, however, want to prevent by all means that they alone have to increase the membership fees. For them that would mean a massive cut in the competition. Therefore, if at all, the contribution rate should be increased for all providers.

Premium increases in 2012?
However, no premium increases are expected for the coming year, as the calculations and premium rates have already been approved. If there were to be an increase, the PKV members would not be affected until 2012. But so that the entry tariffs can be kept low, it would be possible that older insured persons in particular are affected. Because they can hardly defend themselves by changing tariffs, for example, and would have to accept the increases to the benefit of the younger generation.

Contributions have risen continuously over the past ten years
According to an evaluation by Morgen & Morgen in May of this year, the contributions from private health insurance companies have already risen over the past ten years. For example, the 6 different tariffs of the Deutsches Ring have increased by an average of 3.4 percent in the last 10 years. At Pax-Familienfürsorge, insurance premiums have risen by an average of 6.7 percent over the past ten years, and those of Mannheimers by 6.9 percent (including all tariffs). This shows that increases in private health insurance premiums cannot be ruled out.

PKV is hoping for a strong change from GKV to PKV
The PKV Association is currently trying not to bring the situation to a boil. It is pointed out that interest rates have been stable in recent years and that interest rates were 4.2 percent last year. In addition, due to the numerous planned “gifts” from the federal government, new members from the statutory health insurance are expected. Because from 2011, the entry requirements for private health insurance are to be simplified enormously for employees with above-average earnings, which will lead to a movement between statutory health insurance and private health insurance. This massively weakens the GKV and promotes the PKV.

Special right of termination in the event of a premium increase is not very effective
Customers who are affected by a premium increase can insist on their special right of termination in the course of this. But such a change is associated with numerous hurdles. Because if you switch to another provider, you cannot take the saved retirement provisions with you. In addition, numerous providers require a new health check, so that it is quite possible that the contributions will not be cheaper if you switch. In addition, those who were previously legally insured cannot return to the statutory health insurance scheme, because anyone who has changed once will find it difficult to return to the statutory health insurance. This is all too understandable, since the statutory health insurance sees itself as a community based on solidarity that insures all people regardless of their state of health and income. With this in mind, affected employees should carefully consider switching to private health insurance next year. Also because the PKV does not have special services such as family co-insurance or mother-child cures. Because with the PKV children also have to be insured separately. Under certain circumstances, the contributions are then higher than before in the statutory health insurance. (sb, October 24, 2010)

Also read:
Increase in dissatisfaction with private health insurance
Increases in private health insurance contributions
Federal government: Billion package for private health insurance
Simple switch to private health insurance planned

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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