As many refugees that arrive in Germany are younger than the aging native population, they help keep certain medical costs down. However, this is only expected to last for a few years. Kai Dambach reports.
The arrival of primarily young migrants and refugees has had a stabilizing effect on statutory health funds in Germany. In 2015 and 2016, most new members were aged between 20 and 30 years old, 60 per cent of which were male and 40 per cent female.
Doris Pfeiffer, head of Germany’s GKV federation of statutory health funds, said “since the new members who are immigrants are younger than the average of all insured people, and claim fewer benefits than insured people of the same age, they lead to a double relief effect.”
Pfeiffer added that the new members stabilized the company’s financial situation and temporarily stopped the increase of the average age of patients. Pfeiffer said it was an “astounding phenomenon.”
According to a 2015 outlook from Destatis, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, it is predicted there will be more Germans who will be 60 or older than Germans who are 30 or younger in 2019. The aging native population means higher health care costs as elderly patients tend to claim more benefits. However, insurance companies say the young migrants and refugees will likely claim fewer benefits, which means it will ease the strain on the German insurance systems.
Refugees cannot become members of health insurance companies during their asylum procedure in Germany, even if they can receive an electronic health cards in some states. The Federal Ministry of Health says government agencies such as the social services or public health offices ensure asylum seekers receive examinations and care. Refugees can only become members of statutory health insurance funds once they have been granted asylum or are tolerated to stay.
Effect will not last long
While the news is welcome to insurance companies, Pfeiffer believes this effect will only last for a few years. After a few years, migrants and refugees are expected to become regular members of insurance companies in terms of cost-to-revenue. They will be treated like other insured patients and induce costs similar to Germans.
“Whoever will lead the next government must use the good financial situation to set the course for the future,” said Pfeiffer.