Willingness to pay for health insurance among the elderly population in Germany


INTRODUCTION: All elderly Germans are legally obliged to have health insurance. About 90 % of this population are members of social health insurances (SHI) whose premiums are generally income-related and independent of health status. For most of these members, holding social health insurance is mandatory. As a consequence, genuine information about preferences for health insurance is not available. The aim of this study was therefore to determine and analyze the willingness to pay (WTP) for health insurance among elderly Germans.

METHODS: Data from a population-based 8-year follow-up of a large cohort study conducted in the Saarland, Germany was used. Participants aged 57-84 years passed a geriatric assessment and responded to a health economic questionnaire. Individuals' WTP was elicited based on a contingent valuation method with a payment card.

RESULTS: Mean monthly WTP per capita for health insurance amounted to <euro>260. This corresponded to about 20 % of individual disposable income. Regression analyses showed that WTP increased significantly with higher income, male gender, higher educational level, and privately insured status. In contrast, neither increasing morbidity level nor higher individual health care costs influenced WTP significantly.

DISCUSSION: The relatively large extent of average WTP for health insurance indicates that the elderly would probably accept higher contributions to SHI rather than policy efforts to reduce contributions. The identified determinants of WTP might indicate that elderly generally approve the principle of solidarity of the SHI with contributions depending on income rather than morbidity.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Comment Deanary

guw: epub ahead, Jahr umgestellt.

PubMed 25526928