The legislature must make the contribution system for long-term care insurance more family-friendly and give parents relief in proportion to the number of children they have.

Politicians have until July 31, 2023 to do this.

On the other hand, there is no constitutional requirement for child-rearing periods to be taken into account in statutory pension and health insurance.

Katja Gelinsky

Business correspondent in Berlin

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With this Senate decision published on Wednesday, the Federal Constitutional Court has given complaining parents a partial success.

On the other hand, the court rejected the financially much more serious demand for the introduction of child allowances in the statutory pension and health insurance system.

The educational effort is sufficiently compensated in the system of pension and health insurance.

In the pension insurance, this is done primarily through the recognition of child-rearing periods.

In statutory health insurance through non-contributory family insurance.

The First Senate decided that this would avoid unconstitutional discrimination against parents in these insurance branches.

Rejections also create clarity

Family associations expressed their satisfaction with the decision on long-term care insurance.

"But unfortunately it only affects the economically most insignificant of the three branches of social insurance," said Ulrich Hoffmann, President of the Family Association of Catholics.

"In pension and health insurance, the dismissal of the constitutional complaints makes it clear that family-friendly social security contributions can only be achieved through political means," says Klaus Zeh, President of the German Family Association.

On behalf of the German Trade Union Confederation, DGB board member Anja Piel praised: "The Federal Constitutional Court made a wise decision not to demand any further consideration of children in health and pension insurance." Regardless of this, "a fair burden sharing across society is necessary,

For the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, its deputy chairman Lukas Köhler welcomed the "differentiated decision" of the Karlsruhe court.

Even today, child-rearing services are compensated for by a higher entitlement to benefits in both health and pension insurance.

"In contrast, additionally reduced contribution rates for parents would result in a disproportionate additional burden for the other insured persons or the taxpayers."

The Federal Constitutional Court decided on two constitutional complaints from parents from Freiburg and a submission from the Freiburg Social Court.

The starting point was the so-called long-term care insurance ruling of the Karlsruhe judges in 2001. At that time, the constitutional court found that it violated the principle of equality and the fundamental right to protect the family that members of the social long-term care insurance system who cared for and brought up children paid the same high contribution to long-term care insurance would have to like members without children.

Since 2005, childless people have had to pay a surcharge.

Since January 1, 2022, this surcharge has been 0.35 contribution rate points, which are added to the current contribution rate of 3.05 percent.

Multiple mothers disadvantaged

The plaintiff parents are of the opinion that with this measure alone the legislature did not implement the 2001 nursing judgment correctly in accordance with constitutional law.

It makes an economic difference how many children you look after and raise.

That is why parents with more children should be given more relief in long-term care insurance.

The Karlsruhe court has now essentially followed this argument.

It must be acknowledged that since 2001 the legislature has taken or expanded numerous measures for general equalization of family burdens.

Nevertheless, mothers with several children are much less likely to be employed and to a lesser extent than mothers with fewer children.

This disadvantage is "not sufficiently compensated for" in the long-term care insurance, the court criticizes in its decision.

It is not enough for all children to receive insurance cover with the same contributions from their parents.

After all, the risk of children needing care is low, argues the First Senate in Karlsruhe.

The legislature has a great deal of leeway

The legislature must now find a way of financing the relief for parents with several children in long-term care insurance required by the Karlsruhe court.

The Federal Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday that the necessary proposals for adjustments would be "quickly developed."

The First Senate makes it clear that the legislature is not forced to demand more solidarity with the parents of many children from childless and then also from parents with fewer children.

Other solutions are also conceivable.

A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health emphasized that there are no constitutional requirements as to which of these options should be chosen.

From the point of view of the president of the nursing employers' association, Thomas Greiner, the Karlsruhe decision increases the pressure on the federal government to engage in a public discussion about the financing of nursing care.

The previous "blinders strategy" must come to an end (file number: 1 BvL 3 /18 et al.)