Cost of German care insurance could rise in July

To combat the steep cost of care, the German Health Ministry is planning to increase monthly contributions to the care insurance fund, according to media reports.

Old-age care in Germany
An elderly patient receives a visit from a relative in a care home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/CARE24 GmbH | Care24 GmbH

According to a draft law seen by DPA and reported on by other media outlets on Friday, contributions could increase by 0.35 percent as of July 1st, 2023.

On the other hand, those receiving care would get more financial aid from the state. 

Specifically, the draft outlines plans to increase the care allowance for people in nursing homes from January 1st, 2024 and also hike relief for people receiving care at home.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had previously indicated that higher long-term care contributions would be necessary to fill a gaping deficit in the care system.

In 2022 – despite minor increases in care contributions at the start of the year – there was a €2.25 billion black hole in the statutory insurance funds.

On Friday, statutory health and care insurance funds and social pressure groups wrote to the government to demand more tax revenues for care.

In a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), the insurance funds claimed they would require €4.5 billion from the state simply to stabilise their finances in 2023.

“We therefore urge you to quickly stabilise the financing of the social long-term care insurance through federal funds, so that the necessary securing of liquidity is not exclusively at the expense of those paying contributions,” they wrote. 

READ ALSO: What foreigners need to know about old-age care in Germany

The costs of care have been rising rapidly in Germany due to the country’s aging population, higher wages for care professionals, and the effects of the Covid pandemic. 

Currently, the contribution to the statutory long-term care insurance is 3.05 percent of gross wages for those with children and 3.4 percent for those without.

With the increase, this would go up to 3.4 percent for people with children and 3.75 for those without – though employees only pay half of the total contribution. 

READ ALSO: Will health insurance costs go up again in Germany?

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Do German employees with Covid-19 and no symptoms still have to go to work?

The Covid-19 pandemic may be officially over but the number of reported cases is going up around Germany. If an employee tests positive, but has no symptoms, do they still need to show up at work?

Do German employees with Covid-19 and no symptoms still have to go to work?

During the bulk of the Covid-19 pandemic, anyone with the virus was required to stay home for a certain period of time, whether they showed symptoms or not.

Now the pandemic may officially be over, but “Covid-19 is still with us,” as Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach said last week upon announcing the availability of the newest booster vaccine

There are currently three Covid-19 variants circulating around Germany, with the reported number of cases going up.

READ ALSO: Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

Workers around Germany may get tested – be it because a close contact had the virus or out of curiosity – and find they also have Covid-19, but are completely free of symptoms.

Does this mean they still need to show up at their workplace, if working from home isn’t possible, or should they stay home until they have officially recovered?

Employee must indicate infection

If a person infected with Covid exhibits typical signs of the virus such as a coughing, a cold or a fever, the case is usually crystal clear: they can and should rest at home, as with any sickness. 

In accordance with German law, they’ll need to get a sick note from their GP if those symptoms last for longer than three days. 

However, positive test alone “does not automatically make you unfit for work,” lawyer Alexander Bredereck told Germany’s RND editorial network. “And if you are not on sick leave, you actually have to work. Therefore, the employee is in a difficult situation here.”

He continued: “If the employee simply stays at home without a sick note, in the worst case he can risk a warning or even dismissal for not showing up for work.”

However, if someone goes to work despite the positive test result, they may endanger their colleagues – as they can become more severely infected. 

Furthermore under German labour law, the employee is usually obliged to inform their employer of the Covid-19 infection.

READ ALSO: How sick leave pay in Germany compares to other countries in Europe

Uncertain legal situation

“At the moment, there are no legal requirements that employees and employers have to adhere to,” says Bredereck. 

In February 2023 Germany’s ‘Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance’ on Covid-19 – which would have required those with an infection to stay home at least five days – came to an end.

Since then, Germany’s Ministry of Labour has simply recommended that each employer implement their own hygienic requirements to protect their employees from Covid and other infectious diseases such as the flu, which is soon expected to see a spike in cases as the autumn/winter season takes hold. 

If there is a high incidence of infection in one particular region, the Ministry of Labour recommends that, in addition to the usual hygiene measures, social distancing measures should be implemented again and people should reduce their contacts. 

This suggests that workers should not endanger other workers in this situation.

Stay transparent

To solve the dilemma and avoid conflicts, Bredereck recommended that employees simply stay transparent with their management.

“Don’t take any unnecessary risks or get into trouble with your boss,” he said. “Ask your employer what you should do.”

Alternatively, the employee could also turn to their GP for a sick note, which for regular patients is also available via phone in some cases. 

“Then the doctor has to decide what makes sense, and the employee is on the safe side,” explained Bredereck.