BERLIN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Germany's statutory health insurance system will see a financial gap of nearly 50 billion euros (54.9 billion U.S. dollars) by 2040, according to a study published by the Bertelsmann Foundation on Wednesday.
After years of "record surpluses" for Germany's statutory health insurance, the gap between the cost of health services and the revenues from payments would widen again from around 2025 onwards, according to the study.
Although the deficit of the health insurance system would increase over the next years, it could still be covered by the financial reserves. "In 2031, however, the financial reserves of the statutory health insurance are exhausted," the study by the institute for health and social research (IGES) stressed.
"The days of a parallel increase in income and expenditure are over," said Brigitte Mohn, member of the Bertelsmann Foundation's executive board. There would still be time for German politics to react "before the financial gap continues to widen."
In order to close the financial gap, the monthly contribution rate would have to gradually rise from 14.6 percent to 16.9 percent, the study found.
"The most important factors in financing health care come from outside and cannot be directly influenced by health policy," explained Bertelsmann Foundation's health expert Stefan Etgeton.
For example, if the development of income in Germany would continue to increase on a "relatively high level," the contribution rate would only have to rise to 15.4 percent by 2040. In contrast, an "above-average rise in healthcare prices would further widen the gap" and the contribution rate could even reach 18.7 percent in 2040, the study noted.
If the contribution rate were to remain stable at 15 percent, the German government's subsidy would have to rise from 14.5 billion euros per year to 70 billion euros by 2040.
Back in September, the chairman of Germany's largest health insurance company Techniker Krankenkasse Jens Baas warned that German insurance companies would "not be able to hold today's contribution rates in the long term."
The study authors from the IGES stressed that Germany's aging demography was another "major driver" of the financial gap because elderly people were more likely to take advantage of health services.
Although the Germany's population figures have recently gone up because of immigration, demographic ageing in Germany is advancing.
According to the German Statistical Office (Destatis), Germany's population will shrink from currently 83 million to around 78 million by 2060.