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HEALTH INSURANCE

What to know about Germany’s new health insurance fees for 2023

Like many aspects of life in Germany, public health insurance is also set to get more expensive starting in January 2023. Here’s how much more you could end up paying.

Health insurance cards from AOK.
Health insurance cards from AOK. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

A total of 48 of the 97 statutory health insurers are raising premiums (zusätzliche Beiträge) in the new year, according to an evaluation by the comparison portal Check24. This means that 40.9 million people in Germany will face additional costs.

But just how expensive will it be in the end? According to Check24, premium adjustments could go up by 0.1 to 0.7 percentage points. It may not sound that much at first, but the price increase could cost employees up to €347 a year. 

The bill becomes even more expensive for the self-employed, since they foot 100 percent of the premium, whereas employees share it with their employer. That means those who work freiberuflich (freelance) could end up paying a whopping €693 extra per year. 

No notifications required

Many people who are gesetzlich versichert (have statutory health insurance) might not even realize that their costs are rising. As of January 1st, insurance companies will no longer have to personally send all of their customers a letter to inform them of any increase.

READ ALSO: German health insurance costs set to rise next year

Previously they were obliged to do so, but that requirement has been suspended until June 30th, 2023. Thus, every insured person should check what their health insurer will be charging from next year – especially the self-employed who have to shoulder the entire cost of their coverage. 

If your premiums are shooting up and you want to switch, it’s important to know your rights. Normally membership of at least 12 months is a prerequisite for changing provider – and there may also be deadlines for avoid contract renewals. But anyone who has received an increase has a Sonderkündigungsrecht, or a special right to cancel at any time without incurring extra fees.

Should you switch companies – and to which one?

“How high the additional costs end up being depends on how much your own health insurance company raises the premiums,” says Dr. Daniel Güssow, from Check24. 

“Even small premium adjustments can lead to sensitive additional costs for insured people. The only way to avoid higher premium payments is to switch to a cheaper health insurance company.”

If you’re looking to lower your costs, there’s still a handful of companies keeping their premiums consistent in the coming year. Twenty of the 97 statutory health insurance companies will keep their additional contribution the same as it was in 2022, benefiting a total 26 million members. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I change my German health insurance provider?

Only three health insurers will lower their premium contribution for their 85,000 members.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest insurance companies which are raising their premiums. 

AOK Bavaria: The largest of 11 AOK groups, the Bavarian branch is hiking its premium by 0.28 percentage points to 1.58 percent. 

DAK-Gesundheit: DAK-Gesundheit will increase its premium to 1.7 percent in 2023. In 2022, the premium was 1.5 percent.

TK: Techniker Krankenkasse has already announced that it will leave its premium at 1.2 percent. 

AOK Baden-Württemberg : AOK Baden-Württemberg has decided to also raise its premium by 0.3 percentage points. This means that the additional contribution will rise from 1.3 percent to 1.6 percent.

Barmer: Barmer has said it does not want to raise its premium, with the total remaining at 1.5 percent. 

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HEALTH

Germany considers legalising egg donation

A commission on reproductive rights has said the ban on egg donation should be lifted in Germany, with a draft likely to come before the next election.

Germany considers legalising egg donation

Speaking to DPA on Tuesday, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) said he believed a proposal for legalising egg donation would enter the Bundestag next year before Germany’s next federal elections in autumn of 2025.

Donated eggs are used in fertility treatments for women who are otherwise unable to conceive.  

Though the coalition agreement between the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) did not commit to lifting the ban on egg donation specifically, the parties did say they planned to consider the issue.

“We are setting up a commission on reproductive self-determination and reproductive medicine, which will examine regulations for abortion outside of the Criminal Code as well as options for legalising egg donation and altruistic surrogacy,” the 2021 agreement stated. 

READ ALSO: Germany debates legalizing egg donations and surrogacy

In April this year, the commission issued its recommendations, stating that there were “no overriding medical or psychological risks that speak against legalisation”.

The expert panel also recommending following the example of other European countries where this type of fertility treatment was legal.

Germany is one of only four countries in central and western Europe where donating eggs is illegal.

“From my personal point of view, there are good reasons to lift the categorical ban on egg donation in Germany,” Buschmann explained.

Abortion debate

Despite the progress in fertility treatments, the FDP politician does not expect a quick agreement on the reform of the abortion paragraph 218 in the penal code, which effectively criminalises abortion. 

“Abortion raises particularly difficult constitutional issues,” Buschmann told DPA, adding that the topic was a divisive one.

“I see much more consensus on egg donation. Authorising egg donation would be compatible with the Basic Law.”

Abortion remains an illegal act in Germany, though it is exempt from punishment if it carried out in the first three months of pregnancy and after counselling.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP)

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) gives an interview to DPA on February 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Pro-choice activists have been campaigning for this to be overturned for years, but face stiff opposition from religious figures and conservative politicians.

After entering government back in 2021, the traffic-light coalition swiftly scrapped paragraph 219a in the Criminal Code, which banned doctors from publicly providing information on abortion.  

The expert commission has since suggested that abortions in the early stages of pregnancy should no longer be criminalised and questioned the obligation for women to undergo counselling.

READ ALSO: Will abortion in Germany soon become legal?

If a bill on egg donation comes to the Bundestag this year or next, it will likely follow the panel’s recommendations of forbidding the trade of egg cells for financial gain, as well as a regulation ensuring that children retain the right to know their parentage. 

It is also likely to follow the Bundestag’s tradition of tackling questions of legal ethics in a non-partisan way, with parliament putting forward proposals rather than the government.

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