Zoll drives debts for health insurances
Health insurance companies can collect arrears of insured persons with the help of the main customs offices
The number of debtors who are in the black at the health insurance company is growing. In the last year alone, the customs authorities had to move thousands of times to collect open contributions from around 1.6 million legally insured persons. The coffers deplore arrears of over 1.5 billion euros.
Zoll drives health insurance backlog at the non-payers
The statutory health insurance companies are losing more and more money, because defaulting contributors do not settle outstanding claims. On behalf of the cashiers, customs officials are collecting outstanding contributions. Over 1.6 million insured did not pay their premium debts last year despite several requests for payment.
The Association of statutory health insurance complains an ever increasing number of insured who can not pay their unpaid contributions. One and a half billion euros were not paid in 2011. In order to at least partial amounts, the coffers have passed to drastic measures: they collect the amounts with the help of the state customs. As a result, defaulting health insurance patients increasingly receive visits from law enforcement officials. According to the Federal Ministry of Finance, the insurances have commissioned the Hauptzollamt to collect the money in about 1.6 million cases. First, the customs officials announce a reminder period. If you do not pay, your accounts will be seized and goods confiscated. In 2010, there were still 1.3 million cases, so that the number of those affected increased by at least 300,000.
The Customs is, as a debt collection agency of the federal government responsible for seeking debtors of the Federation and other public institutions and to warn. As a spokesman for the ministry said, the numbers "tend to suggest that federal health insurance funds are increasingly paying back claims to the main customs offices." The customs authorities are under the authority of the Ministry of Finance.
Most of those affected can not pay their contributions for financial reasons. Because employers transfer the contributions directly to the health insurance companies, it can be assumed that the number of freelancers and self-employed persons in the total share is quite high. Consumer advocates and trade unions therefore assume that the proportion of negligent insured persons is quite low. Accordingly, it is "a social problem".
Consumer advocates demand affordable health insurance coverage
Those affected can turn to the consumer centers in their financial distress. Compared to the dpa said the debt advisor Dörte Elß of the Consumer Center Berlin, that "debts of a few thousand euros are common". If cash contributions are not paid, a private insolvency is often present. Elß demanded against this background an "affordable health insurance". "A real problem" exists, for example, with small businesses.
Due to irregular income from self-employment, many can not pay their insurance premiums continuously. If the expected contribution collides with the actual revenue, no repayment will take place at the end of the year. Only if the revenues are higher than the assumed contribution rate do the funds demand an additional payment under the law and a higher contribution rate for the next year.
The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) also sees this problem and therefore demands a legal reform for tradespeople or freelancers with low income. "Like self-employed workers, self-employed should pay contributions according to their actual income," demands DGB board member Annelie Buntenbach, for example. At present only flat-rate minimum contributions apply for voluntarily insured persons.
According to the Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance (GKV), the arrears of all health insurance currently amount to well over 1.53 billion euros. The association estimates that hundreds of thousands have not paid their contributions. A spokesman said that the problem has worsened in the last months of the year 2011. In February 2011, the gap was still 1.04 billion euros according to GKV.
The number of debtors has risen rapidly after the introduction of compulsory insurance. In the course of the health reforms, the obligation was first introduced for health insurance patients in 2007 and for private persons in 2009. Those who did not take out insurance at that time and only decided to take out health insurance years later had to reimburse the previous contribution months. Thus, many began the health insurance with debt. The then federal government had introduced compulsory insurance because more and more people had no health insurance.
Non-payers also with the PKV
The problem of non-payers is not limited to the SHI. The Association of Private Health Insurance (PKV) estimates the amount outstanding at around 550 million euros. The planned debt relief for Hartz IV recipients could put the amount of the contribution debts into perspective. "Because the Jobcenters only took over half of them, formerly self-employed people were often in debt", explained the expert Wolfgang Alexander Müller. In the case of open tariff amounts, since the introduction of compulsory insurance, the private funds must not simply terminate the insured. At least one emergency medical care must be guaranteed. However, tariffs have also risen because of the contribution premium.
Opposition calls for reform of the health system
According to health spokeswoman for Alliance 90 / The Greens, Birgitt Bender, there is a system error in German health insurance. The sharp rules would apply in favor of private insurance. "Minimum contributions and access restrictions for self-employed persons in statutory health insurance are the price for the division of our health insurance system," says Bender. The politician was in favor of including entrepreneurs in the law. If there were no restrictions, many self-employed people would opt for health insurance with low income and high risks for diseases.
Prevent seizure in the event of a debt
Before there is a seizure by the customs authorities, insured persons can become active themselves. The debt advice centers point to the possibility of installment payments. Almost every cash register can take care of it. "It is important to stay in contact with the funds and in principle to signal a willingness to pay." Also, the current contributions can be reduced if the health insurance is credibly conveyed that the revenue is significantly lower than in the same period last year. The free counseling centers also offer help for this. (Sb)
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