In order to reduce the burden of billions of deficits in the statutory health insurance (GKV), health insurance boss Ralf Hermes has drastic ideas for savings. He calls for cuts in benefits in three areas: dental treatments, dentures and homeopathy. "It would be appropriate to the situation to remove the entire dental care from the catalog of services," said Hermes, whose fund has around 300,000 insured, the "Handelsblatt". Rising health expenditure would push the system to its limits. Cuts in benefits should therefore "not be taboo, but there is no alternative".

Last year, the GKV spent almost 13 billion euros on dental treatment, including dental fillings, root canal treatments and preventive examinations. Overall, the expenditure of the health care system in Germany rose to 263.41 billion euros last year. Germany affords one of the most expensive health care systems in the world, but experts criticize that it does not have better care. Potential savings are seen above all in hospitals, for example because much more inpatient treatment is carried out than outpatient, which would usually be cheaper.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), who is working on a hospital reform and a GKV financial reform, rejected benefit cuts such as those proposed by Hermes. "There will be no benefit cuts," he replied on Twitter. Other funds are also not following the line of the IKK boss.

Hermes argues that "more and more money is being allocated to the system", which is delaying urgently needed structural reforms. Dental treatments, for example, can be strongly influenced by prevention, and health insurance companies should generally "take a closer look" at this. Accidents through no fault of their own and serious illnesses are exceptions in which the costs should continue to be covered by the statutory health insurance, says Hermes. If you essentially brush your teeth properly twice a day, you will have "almost no problems". In addition, insured persons have the option of insuring themselves privately.

According to the "Handelsblatt", figures from the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds show that the financial situation of the funds will ease in the coming year. The association expects a deficit of between 3.5 and seven billion euros in 2024, instead of the approximately eight billion euros previously expected in the traffic light coalition. Without further measures, this would mean an increase in additional contribution rates of 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points. In the current year, the funding gap is expected to be 17 billion euros.

"We agree in the governing coalition that we cannot, do not want to and must not cut anything in the basic and evidence-based medical services," said the health policy spokesman of the FDP, Andrew Ullmann, the "Handelsblatt". Whether the health insurance companies should cover the costs of "measures whose effect has not been proven or cannot be proven should no longer be an open question," he added with a view to homeopathy.

In addition, according to the coalition agreement, statutory health insurance contributions for recipients of citizen's money are to be taken over by the federal government, from which the funds hope to save up to ten billion euros. But the project falters due to resistance in the coalition. Heads of other health insurance companies, on the other hand, are pushing to curb the cost of medicines and thus profits at the expense of the statutory health insurance.