Health insurance companies record billions in surplus



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The statutory health insurance companies record a billion surplus

Statutory health insurance companies (GKV) were able to generate a significant surplus in the first half of 2011. As the Federal Ministry of Health announced, the health insurance companies recorded a surplus of 2.41 billion euros due to the good economic development and the savings in drug costs.

2.4 billion euros surplus in statutory health insurance companies As soon as the figures for the first quarter of 2011 were published, a billion surplus in statutory health insurance companies was already apparent. This trend has now also been confirmed in the half-year figures. The surplus of 1.47 billion from the first quarter has increased by a further 950 million euros, so that a total of more than 2.41 billion euros is in the first half of 2011, said the Federal Ministry of Health in Berlin. Compared to the first half of 2010 (112 million euros), the surplus has more than twenty times. The Federal Ministry of Health mentions above all the significantly increased premium income in the course of the picking up economy as the cause of this positive development. But the reductions in drug prices implemented as part of the health care reform are also having an effect, according to Federal Health Minister Daniel Bahr (FDP).

According to the latest figures, the statutory health insurance funds had total revenues of 91.7 billion euros in the first half of 2011, with expenses of 89.3 billion euros. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, a large part of the surplus was attributable to the two major types of health insurance, the AOK (971 million euros) and the replacement funds (954 million euros). The company health insurance funds were also clearly up with 221 million euros, as were the guild health insurance funds (156 million euros) and the Knappschaft-Bahn-See (98 million euros). By the end of the year, according to the Federal Minister of Health, a surplus in the statutory health insurance funds of EUR 2.5 billion is to be expected, and the health fund as a whole is expected to show an increase of almost EUR 7 billion in the health insurance estimates.

Good economy and reduced pharmaceutical costs The Federal Minister of Health on the one hand cites the improved earnings situation as a result of the relatively good economic development as the reason for the positive development at the statutory health insurance funds. On the other hand, the reduction in expenditure, such as the 16 percent price reductions for medicines implemented in the course of the health care reform at the end of last year, also played a major role in the billions of euros in surplus that is now being recorded. Expenditures for pharmaceuticals fell by 6.3 percent in the first half of 2011. But in other areas, health insurance companies continue to struggle with rising costs. For example, expenditure on outpatient medical treatment rose by 2.3 percent, in hospital treatment by 4.6 percent and in early detection measures by 5.2 percent. Sickness benefit expenditure also increased again by 9.6 percent compared to the first half of 2010. Overall, however, the statutory health insurance companies are in a much better position than a year ago. The health insurance companies recorded a surplus between January and June 2010, but this was only 112 million euros and turned into a deficit of around 445 million euros by the end of the year.

Good prospects for the SHI? This year, too, the surplus of the first six months could be reduced significantly in the second half of the year, since expenditure in the first half of the year is regularly lower than in the second, the Federal Ministry of Health said. From July to December 2010, the health insurance companies would have spent around 1.5 billion euros more than in the first half of 2010. Overall, however, there is a good chance that the statutory health insurance companies will conclude this year with a significant plus. After the excitement that had swept through the industry as a result of the City-BKK bankruptcy and further impending health insurance bankruptcies, the current figures also provide some relief for the insured. Since the health fund, from which the health insurance companies receive their funds, also has a surplus of 460 million euros and this is expected to increase further in the course of the second half of the year, the prospects of the statutory health insurance companies for 2012 are, according to industry experts such as the AOK press spokesman Udo Barske, quite positive.

Seven billion euros surplus in the health fund Overall, the health fund will have reserves of almost seven billion euros by the end of the year, according to the group of statutory health insurers. The majority of these funds are already planned, as three billion are required for the statutory minimum reserve and two billion euros are earmarked for social compensation from 2012 to 2014. In theory, however, there were free funds of two billion euros that would be available, for example, for lowering the contribution rate. The Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr (FDP), however, rejects a reduction in the current contribution rate of the statutory health insurance of 15.5 percent and advocated that the "small buffer" currently being built up should initially be left as a reserve in the health fund. The Federal Insurance Office also spoke out against using the surplus to lower the contribution rate. (fp)

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