The emerging market for supplemental long term care insurance in Germany in the context of the 2013 Pflege-Bahr reform.Health Policy 2017; 121(6):588-593HP
The growing cost of long term care is burdening many countries' health and social care systems, causing them to encourage individuals and families to protect themselves against the financial risk posed by long term care needs. Germany's public long-term care insurance program, which mandates coverage for most Germans, is well-known, but fewer are aware of Germany's growing voluntary, supplemental private long-term care insurance market. This paper discusses German policymakers' 2013 effort to expand it by subsidizing the purchase of qualified policies. We provide data on market expansions and the extent to which policy goals are being achieved, finding that public subsidies for purchasing supplemental policies boosted the market, although the effect of this stimulus diminished over time. Meanwhile, sales growth in the unsubsidized market appears to have slowed, despite design features that create incentives for lower-risk individuals to seek better deals there. Thus, although subsidies for cheap, low-benefit policies seem to have achieved the goal of market expansion, the overall impact and long-term sustainability of these products is unclear; conclusions about its impact are further muddied by significant expansions to Germany's core program. The German example reinforces the examples of the US and France private long term care insurance markets, to show how such products flourish best when supplementing a public program.