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Increased Insurance Premiums Approved

After months of debate, German Health Minister Phillip Roesler's plans for health care system reform have been approved to start in 2011. The new agreement will raise premium rates, which are shared between employers and workers, from 14.9 percent to 15.5 percent of an individual's gross income. Health insurers will also be able to charge unlimited "additional contributions" (payments to insurer by members) to cover extra costs, although competition between insurers will limit the amount of additional payments. In contrast to the existing income-level based contributions, the government will now provide subsidies when payments exceed 2 percent of total income. Opponents have voiced that the plan falls short, as it does not address high incomes of doctors and hospitals, doctor shortages, or disease prevention. However, Minister Roesler believes these system changes will help lower the expected €11 billion (US$19 billion) deficit faced by the statutory health funds, while getting the "health system on course for sustainable, solid financing."


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