Statutory health insurance companies in need

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City BKK and Vereinigte IKK in financial need

The statutory health insurance companies City BKK and Vereinigte IKK are again threatened with closure. Already in November last year, measures were taken by the association of company health insurance companies to help City BKK. Around 180,000 people are insured in the health insurance fund. Most insured people are now wondering what will happen if they are closed and whether insurance cover will still be guaranteed. We give some answers.

The Federal Insurance Office conducts a fact-based review, and extensive tests are currently being carried out by experts from the Federal Insurance Office (BVA). The financial situation and perspective of the fund are analyzed. The reports should be ready by the end of May. According to the City BKK, it is then decided whether to continue or not. Independent health economists, however, rate the situation as extremely difficult. City BKK already faced insolvency last year. Due to a restructuring concept, the impending bankruptcy could still be averted. The Federal Association of Company Health Insurance Funds (BKK) confirmed to "" that a financial review is currently taking place on the part of the BVA. "But it cannot be ruled out that a closure will occur," said Christine Richter, spokeswoman for the BKK. The Federal Office must order a closure if the health insurance company no longer has sufficient funds and the health care of the insured is no longer guaranteed.

Vereinigte IKK in financial imbalance In addition to the City BKK, the guild insurance company Vereinigte IKK has got into a difficult financial situation. The fund is currently discussing with the five remaining guild health insurance funds for structural assistance, as a spokeswoman for the fund confirmed on Monday. According to press releases, the United IKK needs at least 50 million euros in aid. The biggest problem is the insufficient allocations from the health fund because the regional inequalities are not compensated for, as a spokeswoman for the IKK said. They are currently examining whether "competitiveness can be maintained in the long term". However, there is still no additional contribution because the health insurance reserves are currently sufficient. Supplementary contributions are probably whitely avoided until the very end because the exchange rate is quite high.

In contrast to the small City BKK (around 180,000 insured), around 1.6 million people are insured in the United IKK. It is one of the 15 largest health insurance companies in Germany. The United IKK has locations in Bavaria, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and the new state of Saxony-Anhalt.

Around 150 million euros in closing costs If City BKK from Stuttgart were to be closed, the company funds would have to pay around 150 million euros in closing costs. Alternatively, the BKK network could raise around 50 million euros to help the stricken cash register. It would be unlikely, but also possible, to find a solvent fusion partner. However, hardly any well-positioned health insurance company will take such a step. Rather, it seems likely that the association of City BKK company funds will help financially, as the cost of the closure would outweigh the support payments. In addition, the Association of Company Health Insurance Funds had already put together a € 40 million aid package in November 2010.

Additional contributions cause membership dwindling The very high additional contributions are likely to be a hindrance to a secure future. The box office raised an additional fee of eight euros last year, and since January 2011 it has been a whopping 15 euros per month and a member who is liable to pay contributions. Industry insiders estimate that 10,000 members of the health insurance fund alone changed due to the additional contributions. About a quarter of those who remained refused to pay, so the introduction will result in more administrative costs than benefits due to the dunning process.

At the end of 2011 there were only 150 health insurance companies. The process of dissolving the currently 156 health insurance companies is politically desired. The then Federal Minister of Health Ulla Schmidt (SPD) considered it sufficient if there were only about 30 to 50 health insurance companies in the future. The health fund was specially designed so conceptually. For this reason, the Federal Insurance Office also assumes that there will only be around 150 health insurance companies at the end of 2011.

Insurance coverage also applies to bankruptcy Many insured persons of the United IKK and the City BKK are worried. But fears that health insurance coverage would be lost in the event of bankruptcy are unfounded. If one of the two endangered health insurers can no longer pay for therapy offers, clinical fees, pharmaceuticals or medical bills, the other health insurers in the respective association must assume and share the costs. In the case of the City BKK, these would be the company funds (BKK) and the United IKK the guild funds. If the financial means are insufficient, all other statutory health insurance companies must step in too. Only when these two ways are exhausted does the state have to help.

Change of health insurance fund after closure For insured persons, this means in concrete terms that they will not always be left at the expense themselves. Hospitals, therapy facilities or resident doctors may under no circumstances refuse treatment due to the impending financial situation of the health insurance fund. If a cash register is actually closed, those affected can freely choose a new cash register. This step should, however, take place in the first four weeks after closure, otherwise the employer, the Federal Employment Agency or the pension insurance institution itself will choose a new fund so that the insurance protection remains granted. (sb)

Read on:
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Image: Uschi Dreiucker /

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