Karl Lauterbach's (SPD) new legislative package for the relief of care will soon come into force. An overview of the most important questions about the new care reform.
Berlin/Munich – On Friday (26 May), the Bundestag decided that the long-term care contribution in Germany should be increased and benefits improved at the same time. Thus, the traffic light government has brought its first reforms in care through the Bundestag. While Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is very much in favor of the changes, they are met with criticism from the opposition. But what do I need to know, especially as a contributor?
Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health. © Kay Nietfeld/dpa/Archivbild
Higher contributions to long-term care insurance: What does this mean in concrete terms for contributors?
The Federal Ministry of Health informs that the care contribution in Germany will be increased by 0.35 percentage points of gross income from July. This has different effects on different family constellations: While childless people will pay four percent in the future, the contribution for people with one child will increase to 3.4 percent.
Parents with more than two children pay 3.15 percent, from the third to the fifth child, the contribution is to be further weakened, so that it is even less than today for the third child. The amounts are valid until the child reaches the age of 25. The employer's share is always 1.7 percent.
What increase can I expect as a contributor?
Childless: four percent of gross income
Parents with one child: 3.4 percent
Parents with two children: 3.15 percent
Parents with three children: 2.90 percent
Parents with four children: 2.65 percent
Parents with five children and more: 2.40 percent (Source: Federal Ministry of Health)
According to Lauterbach, the federal government will take in around 6.6 billion euros more per year as a result of the reform. In addition to the fixed increases in long-term care contributions, the Federal Minister of Health also secures the option of further changing the contribution rates under certain conditions if new financial holes open up. According to the draft law, this can be done "in the event of a short-term need for liquidity" by ordinance. However, the Bundestag should be able to amend such an ordinance retrospectively. Overall, thecare situation in Germany is disastrous. In an interview, an expert from the Long-Term Care Protection Association explains why this is the case and how long-term care insurance can be improved.
Lauterbach's reform: More money for home care and for those in need of care in homes
At the same time, the new long-term care reform plans to increase the long-term care allowance by five percent as of January 1, 2024. The higher payout is intended to benefit people in need of care who are cared for voluntarily at home. As a rule, relatives take over the task. However, the next increase in care allowance planned for 2025 will be smaller. It is then to be raised by 4.5 percent instead of another five percent as initially planned.
People in nursing homes are also to be financially relieved from 1 January 2024. Lauterbach's reform provides for the surcharges of long-term care insurance funds to be increased by five to ten percentage points and paid directly to the homes in order to reduce the deductible. The amount of the surcharge is derived from the length of stay in the home: For example, the surcharge increases from five to 15 percent for a stay of up to one year, and from 25 to 30 percent for a duration of up to two years.
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Surcharges for nursing homes: To what extent will those in need of care be relieved in the future?
Length of stay up to one year: Surcharge increases from five to 15 percent
Length of stay of one to two years: gradient from 25 to 30 percent
Length of stay of two to three years: gradient from 45 to 50 percent
More than three years: gradient from 70 to 75 percent. (Source: Federal Ministry of Health)
New legislative package on care includes relief budget for substitutions and other changes
Contrary to expectations, the coalition partners also agreed on a relief budget for those in need of care. Previously, the regulation was deleted from the reform, but now it is part of the law. According to Lauterbach, it should help with the financing of care replacement, if the responsible caregivers can not work. Initially, from 1 January, only parents with children in need of care will receive a budget of 3,386 euros. From 2025, it will then apply to all those affected and amount to 3,539 euros.
A nurse at work. The opposition criticises the fact that those in need of care and their relatives are not sufficiently relieved by the new reform. © Jana Bauch/dpa/Symbolbild
The new care reform includes further changes, for example, to promote digitization in care facilities or to enable ten days of vacation per year for each close relative in need of care, for which up to 90 percent of the net salary is to be paid.
New long-term care reform meets with criticism from the opposition – Karl Lauterbach defends his legislative package
In the opposition and elsewhere, the reform of Lauterbach meets with criticism. Consumer advocates have criticized the care reform due to be voted on Friday (26 May) in the Bundestag as inadequate. According to the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), the legislative package contains "too little relief" and "too much bureaucracy". Although there have been some improvements, "from the point of view of those in need of care and their relatives, the overall package remains a disappointment". Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) criticized in Munich that the care system is not stabilized with tax revenues.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, meanwhile, defended his reform, stressing that the legislative package would be accompanied by significant improvements for family caregivers. "In a humane society, the care of the very elderly must be worth more to us," he said at a press conference in early April. One has to consider oneself lucky that so many relatives are dedicated to care. Of a total of around five million people in need of care in Germany, almost four-fifths are cared for at home. (nz/dpa/afp/Federal Ministry of Health)