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Fair financing in Germany's public health insurance: income-related contributions or flat premiums

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  • Rothgang, Heinz
  • Cacace, Mirella

Abstract

Social justice in health care insurance relates to both, the utilisation of services and the financing of the system. With respect to the latter, in its World Health Report 2000 the WHO promoted a concept of fair financing that asks for contributions to health care financing that are proportional to households' capacity to pay. This claim contains three dimensions: the rejection of risk-related premiums, the claim that all households with equal income should pay equal premiums (horizontal justice), and the suggestion that higher income should lead to proportionally higher premiums (vertical justice). In this paper we first discuss the normative dimension of fair financing and develop a slightly modified version of the WHO's normative framework. Second, empirical findings based on WHO data and on data from the ECuity project are presented for selected countries. While the WHO concept does not allow drawing unambiguous conclusions, the latter shows, that Germany's system is regressive. With respect to the normative framework developed we can therefore conclude that future reforms should make the system more progressive. Against this background, two recent alternative strategies for reforming health financing, the Bürgerversicherung and the Gesundheitsprämie, are discussed. While both reform options are to be judged as more or less equivalent regarding horizontal justice and the rejection of risk-related premiums, some evidence is given towards the inferiority of the Gesundheitsprämie model with respect to vertical justice.

Suggested Citation

  • Rothgang, Heinz & Cacace, Mirella, 2005. "Fair financing in Germany's public health insurance: income-related contributions or flat premiums," TranState Working Papers 26, University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb597:26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-277, June.
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    5. Anita B. Pfaff & Bernhard Langer & Florian Mamberer & Florian Freund & Axel Olaf Kern & Martin Pfaff, 2003. "Zuzahlungen nach dem GKV-Modernisierungsgesetz (GMG) unter Beruecksichtigung von Haertefallregelungen," Discussion Paper Series 253, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
    6. Adam Wagstaff, 2002. "Reflections on and alternatives to WHO's fairness of financial contribution index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(2), pages 103-115.
    7. Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Johannesson, Magnus, 2000. "Income-related inequality in life-years and quality-adjusted life-years," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 1007-1026, November.
    8. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic theory and the welfare state : a survey and interpretation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 279, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam & van der Burg, Hattem & Christiansen, Terkel & Citoni, Guido & Di Biase, Rita & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Gerfin, Mike & Gross, Lorna & Hakinnen, Unto, 1999. "The redistributive effect of health care finance in twelve OECD countries," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 291-313, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Härpfer, Marco & Cacace, Mirella & Rothgang, Heinz, 2009. "And fairness for all? Wie gerecht ist die Finanzierung im deutschen Gesundheitssystem? Eine Berechnung des Kakwani-Index auf Basis der EVS," Working papers of the ZeS 04/2009, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).

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