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Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) will be the first major statutory sickness fund to introduce bonus payments to its policyholders, with around 6 million people expected to benefit. The company’s management made the recommendation to the Executive Board, that the insured should receive a share of their contributions to the existing capital, which is at its maximum limit of EUR 3 billion.

The annual bonus, which should be at least EUR 100, will be decided by the board on the 12th October. The bonus of the sickness fund will be used as a marketing tool for recruiting new members: those who move to TK by 1st January and stay for a minimum of one year will access the bonus. „If we spend this amount of money, it should have an effect on the market“. 

The company’s CEO Jens Baas has made it clear that the bonus payment idea was not their first choice. They would have preferred instead for customers to forego consultation fees instead, but this would have proved too cumbersome to administer. In order to finance the second option, more of the voluntary medical offerings that were well-received, such as the osteoporis range, will have to be rejected.

Commentary: Only some minor funds with approximately 700,000 policyholders currently offer premiums at a typical rate of EUR 60 to 80. In some operating funds, however, the bonus is even up to EUR 120. These bonus payments comprise only a very small proportion of all health insurance policyholders.

With this decision by the first large statutory sickness fund to offer bonus payments, it will be interesting to see if this results in movements from policyholders in the health insurance market. Whether a one-time financial incentive will have a similarly strong effect to that of, say, banks who offer account switching bonuses remains to be seen. Recently, a survey of health insurance policyholders by the Instituts Kantar Health on behalf of the Bundesverbands der Betriebskrankenkassen found that the majority would consider moving for performance improvement rather than financial incentive.