Agricultural health insurance
The Social Insurance Fund for Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture (SVLFG) delivers the farmers' health insurance. It has been in place since 1972 for entrepreneurs in the agricultural, forestry and horticultural sectors and their families. The Second Act on Farmers’ Health Insurance (KVLG 1989) provides the legal basis for this.
Agricultural health insurance is a special system within the statutory health insurance scheme and offers comprehensive health insurance cover for agricultural, forestry and horticultural entrepreneurs and their families. It takes into account specific characteristics of the profession that only a special system, such as the agricultural social insurance, can cover. The system provides tailor-made health insurance for agricultural, forestry and horticultural entrepreneurs and their families in order to maintain their health and to minimise the risks and consequences of illness.
Who is insured?
In principle, insurance cover is provided for agricultural, forestry and horticultural entrepreneurs, their family members working in the business, family members with dependent coverage, pension claimants and recipients of a pension from the farmers' old-age security scheme, as well as other persons.
The free choice of a health insurance fund that applies in the general statutory health insurance scheme does not exist for members of the SVLFG, because this system is profession-based.
To which benefits are insured persons entitled?
The catalogue of benefits provided by the SVLFG is, in principle, no different from that provided by the general statutory health insurance funds. It does, however, contain features specific to the professions, such as the benefits for company support and home help.
What about the funding?
The principle of solidarity-based funding also applies to agricultural health insurance schemes. This means that everyone should contribute to the financing of expenditure in line with his or her economic strength. Given that the income of self-employed persons is difficult to determine, the SVLFG uses an alternative benchmark for agricultural, forestry and horticultural entrepreneurs. Contributions for family members working for the business are paid solely by the entrepreneurs.
As a result of structural change in the agricultural sector, the number of pensioners in the agricultural health insurance is growing much faster in relation to active members than in the general health insurance. Even when agricultural health insurance was introduced, it was therefore not acceptable to burden farming families with the healthcare costs for the increasing number of pensioners. Since coping with the financial consequences of the structural changes underway in agriculture is a task for society as a whole, the Federal Government therefore largely takes over the part of the pensioners' expenditure that is not covered by their contributions or by the solidarity contributions of the entrepreneurs or the voluntarily insured.
The solidarity contributions from the entrepreneurs and the voluntarily insured contribute to the financing of expenses for the older generation. The solidarity contributions amounted to EUR 76 million in 2019. This ensures that the active members of the agricultural health insurance scheme contribute to the expenses of the no longer active members in the same way as those in the general statutory health insurance scheme. The Federal Government only bears the expenses that exceed this amount. These federal funds are primarily intended to cushion the burden on insured persons in the agricultural health insurance system that is caused by structural changes.
Uniform national contribution scale
The Act on the Restructuring of the Agricultural Social Security System (LSV-NOG) created the SVLFG on 1 January 2013 as a federal insurance fund for the agricultural social security system as a whole. The merger between the previous agricultural social security bodies and their umbrella organisation did not entail organisational changes alone.
As a result of the regional competencies of agricultural social security bodies, the burden placed on identically structured holdings varied significantly, giving rise to discernible distortions in competition. The establishment of the federal insurance fund made it possible to dismantle these distortions in competition by introducing uniform contribution rates across Germany, thus ensuring that the amounts paid were fair across the regions. The only deciding factor for the level of contributions is now the farm structure and no longer the location of the farm.
Since January 2014, the contributions for entrepreneurs have, for the first time, been calculated nationwide on the basis of the so-called corrected land values. The land value is matched with the SVLFG contribution table based on the size and type of cultivated areas and on other factors (in particular the relational value laid down in the Agricultural Earned Income Ordinance (Arbeitseinkommensverordnung Landwirtschaft (AELV)). The legislator has merely provided the framework for the contributions. For example, 20 contribution classes must be defined, with the contribution in the highest contribution class being at least six times that of the lowest contribution, and the contribution in the highest contribution class must account for at least 90 percent of the so-called comparative contribution of the general health insurance. The SVLFG’s self-administration is responsible for the concrete specifications.
Detailed explanations concerning the contribution scale in agricultural health insurance can be found on the website of the SVLFG at "The Contributions in the Agricultural Health Insurance" ("Die Beiträge in der LKK").