Finance minister wants to cut subsidies for health insurers

The German finance minister wants to take two billion euros away from the statutory health insurance funds in order to get a lot closer to his goal of a balanced national budget next year. According to current calculations, the minister lacks four billion euros for this purpose. Half of the required amount would already be covered by the health insurance budget.

Schauble wants to draw the other half equally from all other finance departments. The finance minister can cut the budgets of his colleagues across the board via a so-called global underspend, reports the news magazine Spiegel.

This is the second time that Schauble has used the health fund. Back in March 2012, he had announced – due to the favorable economic situation at the time – that he wanted to further consolidate the budget, arzteblatt reports. Even then, two billion euros were set aside in the health fund to cushion an expected deficit of the health insurance funds. However, redistribution to health insurers was not necessary.

Schauble wants to reduce the federal government's new debt to 19.6 billion euros for the current year. This is the difference between the expected expenditure of 300.7 billion euros and the income of 281.1 billion euros. For 2014, new borrowing is then expected to be only 14.6 billion euros, and in 2016 Schauble wants to take on almost no debt at all (1.1 billion euros).

If this optimistic target is met, there is a risk that the health fund could degenerate into an annual emergency reserve for the finance minister. "Basically, the federal subsidy is used to finance the cost of children's. It should not become an annual quarry," said CDU health expert Jens Spahn, according to a report by Reuters.

The Ministry of Health already has to make do with a reduced budget of 12.48 billion euros for 2013. However, in view of the high reserves of the statutory health insurance funds, the reduction can be absorbed. The reserves of the statutory health insurers and the health fund have swelled to a total of around 30 billion euros.

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