Germans face higher health costs
Health insurance premiums are expected to spike after doctors secured a 10 percent pay hike
Berlin -- Health insurance premiums for the vast majority of Germans will rise noticeably after doctors secured a rise in fees averaging more than 10 percent for 2009, insurers warned.
Contributions to the roughly 250 state-regulated health insurance schemes are set to break through 15 percent of gross pay for most workers following the rise, which was announced late last week after lengthy negotiations.
"Everyone insured will unfortunately feel the effects of this massive rise in fees," said the association representing the insurance companies that cater to the health needs of around 85 percent of German residents.
Health Minister Ulla Schmidt praised the deal saying it was a significant contribution to health reforms.
"The minister welcomes this outcome as a big step forward for the health system," a spokesman said, adding that health care would be more transparent.
The 145,000 doctors affected secured a total rise of €2.7 billion ($4 billion) in fees, considerably more than the insurers wanted to pay but well below the €.5 billion euros initially demanded by the doctors.
The KBV association of doctors contracted into the state-regulated health insurers said the rise would help alleviate differences between doctors in the east and west of the country left over from reunification almost two decades ago.
"We hope that we can make at least a small contribution to reducing the deficiencies in care in the new (formerly communist eastern) states," KBV head Andreas Koehler said.
Contributions -- generally borne roughly equally by salaried workers and their employers -- would rise 0.28 percent, taking the contribution through the 15-per-ent mark on average, he said.
The KBV says a third of its members earn as little as around €1,600 a month after all deductions, with a further third earning up to €3,600.
The figures do not include income from private patients, which is minimal for many doctors.
The Health Ministry said it believed the increase in doctors' pay would help eliminate differences in the quality of service offered to private and insured patients.