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The general local health insurance company AOK Plus plans to spend around 20 million euros for homeopathy this year. Instead of paying a premium to the insured, as required by politicians, the health insurance fund instead wants to offer more health benefits to its members.
For the past year, AOK Plus has recorded a record surplus of around EUR 354 million in additional income. This surplus is now to be partly passed on indirectly to the insured. The health insurance company plans to expand the range of services and offer more offers in the event of illness. A payment of the surpluses, as requested by the federal government, is out of the question for the largest statutory health insurance fund in Saxony and Thuringia with around 2.7 million insured persons who are subject to contributions. The Board of Directors in Erfurt decided this today. A large part of the surpluses should therefore be invested "for bad times".
No premiums for insured persons
Already in 2010, the AOK was able to record additional revenues of around 58 million euros. With the reserves from previous years and the new surpluses, AOK Plus achieved reserves of around 700 million euros, as Chairman Rolf Steinbronn explained. Claims by the Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr (FDP), after the surpluses are to be paid out to the members, were assessed by the fund as "pure campaign tactics". In addition, such payments would "produce a high administrative burden and would also have to be taxed by the insured," added the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sven Nofert. The amount that would be paid out would not be very high for the individual insured. The additional income generated in 2011 corresponds to a premium income of just "14 calendar days". According to the Federal Insurance Office, 2.5 months of legal claims are permitted to ensure the stability of the fund.
However, in order to indirectly provide the insured with the additional income and to be able to assert itself on the cash market, the Board of Directors adopted a so-called "performance offensive". As early as July 2012, the health insurance company wanted to reimburse women during pregnancy and underage members for the costs of medicines that are not anchored in the benefits catalog of the statutory health insurance companies. According to this, patients in the groups of insured persons "can get medicines that are not subject to prescription but are only available from pharmacies". In addition, there is a “40 euro subsidy per year for professional tooth cleaning from the age of 18”. Employees should also be granted a health bonus if they take part in employer preventive measures.
Homeopathy for children, adolescents and adults
Overall, the AOK Plus wants to provide more funding for homeopathy. Under certain conditions, these offers can be used by all members of the cash register. The health insurance company expects additional expenses of around 20 million euros. The services for homeopathy will apply from September 2012. The Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is already undertaking the same model and reimbursing its insured persons for homeopathy and naturopathy health services. Finally, a study also found that homeopathy saves costs in the healthcare system.
AOK Plus cites the good economy in 2011 as the reason for the extremely good financial situation. In addition, the negotiated discount contracts with the pharmaceutical manufacturers had generated savings of around 80 million euros. Therefore, the additional contribution will be waived until at least the end of 2014. The surpluses are "not a cushion on which we can rest," emphasized the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Already this year he expects additional expenses of around 300 million euros. This is mainly due to higher spending on medicines and increased medical fees. The increasing life expectancy also makes the “gap between income and expenditure widen”. Although premium income increases by 1.4 percent per year, in contrast, expenditure increases by a good 3.9 percent. (sb)
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