1st April 2007, Germany made it compulsory for everyone living in Germany to have health insurance. Some people did not jump on the bandwagon and thus didn’t register for any insurance. Considering having health insurance and in turn access to health care is a basic need, the Government decided to waive any debt that might be discouraging people from accessing this basic need (read: Health Insurance in Germany: What you need to know).
The debt waiver for defaulters who have been unable to pay their monthly insurance premiums. Started on 1st August 2013 and will run until 31st December. Defaulters are required to register with their health insurance within this timeline in order to enjoy the waiver, failure to which they will be required to pay their debt themselves.
This emergency plan was rolled out because previously insurers could terminate private health insurance when the insured defaulted on payments. (Read: When Falling Ill Becomes Illegal – Living in Germany with no Health Insurance) However, in 2009 a legislation was passed making it compulsory for everyone to have health insurance. And since this law was passed it was no longer possible for private health insurers to terminate their contracts with defaulters. For this reason the private insurance companies were under immense pressure to try and recover 750€ million debt owed by defaulters since the number of those who simply could not afford the increasingly expensive premiums was on the rise. These people who have no health insurance are mostly freelancers and entrepreneurs who were all formerly privately insured and now cannot afford to pay the premiums which are up to 650€ per month. They were usually dropped out of the system and could only return when they could afford to pay their arrears and penalties in full.
According to this new plan:
1. For the individuals who never registered for any insurance and never claimed any health insurance benefits but incurred debt due to defaulting payment penalties and surcharges;
- If they register by 31st December, they will have ALL their debt waived.
- If they register AFTER between 1st Jan and 28th Feb, their debt will be subsidised but not completely waived
2. For the individuals who registered to the public health insurance after 1st January 2010, the debt incurred between 1st April until 31st Dec 2009 will be waived while the debt incurred between 1st Jan 2010 to date, will not be waived.
3. An individual who is willingly registered to the public health insurance but doesn’t pay their premiums regularly. The late payment penalties will be reduced from 5% to 1% this will also apply for the future.
4. Individuals who have private health insurance but haven’t been paying their premiums or only do it irregularly. These will be put on an emergency insurance cover. The Emergency cover will only cover basics which will include emergency medical care and treatment of acute illnesses. Routine and preventive examinations that will not be covered. The premiums for the emergency health cover will range between 100-120€ per month. Treatment costs for children and adolescents as well as their hospital admissions and vaccinations will reimbursed. Pregnant women and new mothers will also receive more in benefits.
5. Individuals entitled to private health insurance who register for the first time
- Before 31st Dec 2013, their debt incurred after 1st Jan 2010 will be waived
- After 1st Jan 2014, they will have their debt of at most 15months subsidised
For more info: Bundesregierung and Bundesministerium für Gesundheit.