Increased loss expectation for health insurance companies

2023-08-15 10:44:12

Austria’s health insurance companies closed the year 2022 with a minus of 410.9 million euros slightly better than recently expected. For this year, a loss of 603.7 million euros is predicted, after a deficit of 578.7 million euros was assumed in May, according to the data available from the APA. Peter Lehner, Co-Chairman of the Conference of Social Security Institutions, identified a need for action on financial equalization.

Three months ago, a deficit of EUR 421.2 million had been calculated by the responsible bodies for 2002. Ultimately, the final result was 10.3 million euros better. After the low of EUR 603.7 million predicted for this year, the balance sheet loss should then fall rapidly in the coming years according to the preliminary income and payment forecast (as of August 15, 2023). It should be EUR 242.3 million in 2024, EUR 160.9 million in 2025, EUR 141.3 million in 2026 and EUR 165.2 million in 2027.

In the previous year, only the social insurance for the self-employed (SVS) was positive with a positive balance of 8.6 million euros in 2022. But even for this fund, in which Lehner acts as chairman, deficits of 62 .2 and 37.9 million euros respectively.

Health insurance companies spent around 5.9 billion euros on medical assistance last year, an increase of 8.5 percent compared to 2022. A further increase of 6.9 percent to 6.3 billion euros is forecast for this year. Expenditure on medicinal products rose by seven percent in the previous year to EUR 4.5 billion; this year an increase of 8.2 percent to around EUR 4.9 billion is estimated. Expenditure on institutional care rose the most, namely by 10.2 percent to EUR 5.9 billion in the previous year. This year it should be plus 6.7 percent to 6.2 billion euros.

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In a written statement to the APA, Lehner also underlined that social security benefits are increasing sharply: “These figures are a task for the current financial equalization negotiations: social security needs the leeway to finance the intensively used established area and cannot continue to blindly finance the federal states .”

For Andreas Huss, who is the employee representative and is currently the chairman of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK), the current payment forecast clearly shows that the gap between financing and the need for health services in the population is widening. The ÖGK deficit of EUR 350 million forecast for 2023 will be the fourth negative annual result in a row, he warned in a press release.

Overall, the ÖGK – created under the turquoise-blue federal government – has already made 730 million euros in losses since its start in 2020 (including the forecast for 2023). According to Huss, the reserves that the regional health insurance funds contributed to the ÖGK in 2019 have shrunk from EUR 1.4 billion to EUR 700 million (including the forecast for 2023).

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