Health care system: merger of health insurance companies

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Does the merger of health insurance companies endanger the health system?

(2010-08-05) Since the introduction of the health fund in early 2009, a financing gap of currently estimated 11 billion euros has opened up in the health care system, with considerable consequences for the structure of the statutory health insurance funds. Since these do not have the option of opening up additional financing options independently due to the cap on contributions, and the collection of additional contributions usually results in a considerable loss of members, numerous health insurers with mergers have reacted to the existing problems in the past year. Some insurance such as B. the City BKK could not compensate for their deficit in this way and have therefore announced a possible insolvency at the Federal Insurance Office. The 170,000-strong fund is threatened with the end of the year if it receives no external financial support.

However, industry experts are also watching the current wave of mergers with increasing concern and are already warning of a possible collapse of the health system. So far, there has always been the possibility that health insurers - as described above - report possible bankruptcy to the Federal Insurance Office if there is insufficient funding. H. the rest of the risk lay with the insurance companies themselves. However, with the current wave of mergers, some health insurers, such as the Bamer GEK reaches a size that makes it impossible to run such a health insurance fund through a proper insolvency procedure, since its members could not be accommodated easily with other health insurance companies. Experts such as Rolf Stuppardt from the Federal Association of Guilds' Funds even assume that the current mergers generally have "little to do with health-economic goals", but mainly serve to achieve a system-relevant size so that the state has to intervene in the event of bankruptcy .

The parallels to the banking system are obvious. “Nowhere are there as many mergers as in the health insurance industry. In just two years, the number of statutory health insurers fell from 216 to 163. If politicians persistently announce that few health insurance companies are enough and mergers are the only way to go, then they have not learned the lessons from the greatest economic crisis since the end of the war, ”emphasized the head of the Siemens company health insurance fund, Hans Unterhuber, told the" Frankfurter Rundschau ". Meanwhile, the experts estimate that the merger will continue until there are only 20-30 statutory health insurance companies left (estimate by the CEO of Barmer GEK Birgit Fischer). These would all have a size that forces the state to act as soon as one of them gets into financial difficulties. The decoupling from government support hoped for by the government parties CDU / CSU and FDP would therefore no longer apply and the competitive pressure would again decrease sharply. The health system in its current form could hardly be maintained and the consequences of this for the insured remain unanswered. (fp)

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Image: S. Hofschlaeger /

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