The German government finances its war spending by increasing contributions to health insurance

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (Social Democratic Party, SPD) plans to make up a health insurance deficit of at least €17 billion next year by increasing contributions from ordinary insurers and looting health insurance reserves. . Announcing his plans, the minister explicitly referred to the war in Ukraine.

Two months ago, the WSWS described the federal budget as a “declaration of war on the people” after the government decided to triple overall military spending and give the German army (Bundeswehr) a “special fund” of €100 billion. We wrote: “The cost of rearmament will be borne by the working class in all respects.”

This analysis has now been confirmed. Lauterbach is no longer prepared to fill the health insurance gap through state subsidies as has been done in the past. Instead, he demands higher contributions from the vast majority of the population that cannot afford private insurance. In doing so, the health minister directly affirmed the intention of the ruling “traffic light” coalition (SPD, Greens, Free Democratic Party) to comply with the debt brake mechanism (i.e. no new loans) in the federal budget. of 2023.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) during a press conference on January 14, 2022 (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

When Lauterbach appeared before the press on Tuesday, June 28, he repeatedly thanked Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) for “the good cooperation and the agreed result.” He reported that the Finance Minister had taken care “that we do not end up with proposals that violate the debt brake, that require tax increases or require a supplementary budget… I expressly share the three objectives of the Federal Finance Minister.”

The projected €17 billion shortfall in health insurance by 2023 is likely an underestimate. Other forecasts assume an amount of 25,000 million euros. the BILD The newspaper published this figure from the Institute for Health Economics (IfG) in Munich along with its explanation that the estimate of 17 billion euros “does not yet include the war in Ukraine and its consequences.” Additional shortfalls worth billions of euros are also expected for unemployment insurance and old-age care insurance.

In order to plug the financial hole in health insurance funds, increases in contributions from blue and white collar workers are expected to raise €5bn. In addition, insurance reserves will also be looted. Lauterbach explained that the various health insurance companies and their common health fund have a combined reserve of 6.4 billion euros that could be used to help cover the shortfall. “We are in the middle of the Ukraine war,” the minister stressed. “All the reserves of the funds must be used.”

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So far the shortfall has been absorbed by federal subsidies, most recently amounting to €14bn, but “this would not apply next year!” the minister said. According to Lauterbach, there will be a tax subsidy of only €2 billion and a federal loan of €1 billion. The minister plans to collect another 3,000 million euros of “efficiency improvements”, without giving more information.