DIGITAL AND SOCIAL – so that social insurance remains viable in the future

Shortages of labour and skilled workers, the imminent retirement of the baby boomer generation and the growing demands of an ageing society in terms of health care and nursing care present huge challenges for the welfare state. The three heads of Germany’s leading social insurance providers discussed solutions for the welfare state of the future with members of the Bundestag in Berlin today and made specific proposals.

19 Oct 2023 | Press release no.46

“Demographic developments mean that we will have to provide more services in the future with increasingly scarce personnel.” Such was the conclusion on the challenges facing the German welfare state reached by the three Heads of the German social insurance providers, Andrea Nahles (Chair of the Federal Employment Agency), Dr. Doris Pfeiffer (Chair of the umbrella association for the statutory health insurance providers [the GKV]) and Gundula Roßbach (President of the German Pension Insurance System) at their “parliamentary breakfast for social security” meeting in Berlin.

The tasks are becoming more complex – and personnel ever scarcer

While demographic effects will mean that more people will be dependent on pension and rehabilitation services in the future and the need for health and care services will increase in an ageing society, for the recruitment of labour and skilled workers, advice and qualification are set to continue to increase in importance within the context of the economic transformation. At the same time, demographic changes aren’t just leaving the major social insurance providers unscathed, though: tens of thousands of employees of the Federal Employment Agency, the pension insurance providers and the statutory health and long-term care insurance providers are set to retire in the coming years. And because of the general shortage of skilled workers, these workers won’t be easy to replace. This applies to the areas of health care and nursing care, together with nurses, doctors and a wide range of other professional groups.

Digitalisation and automation: the key factors for the future viability of social insurance

For the trio of heads of the major social insurance providers, this means that one thing is clear: In addition to adequate funding, digitalisation and automation of the administrative and service-related processes are crucial to maintaining the social safety net in Germany. Although federal employment agencies, pension insurance providers and health and long-term care insurers have already digitalised many of their processes in a customer-friendly way, legal and structural frameworks frequently stand in the way of further transformation and a future-proof restructuring. For the necessary simplification and the transfer of social welfare law into the digital age, a “digital understanding of the law” is needed by checking of the existing legal norms for their digital implementation and adapting them where necessary. In the future, the digital feasibility of the laws must be taken into account from the outset, i.e. when they are first formulated.

To find a solution, the heads of the BA, the pension insurance system and the umbrella association for the statutory health insurance providers presented three specific proposals:

Once-only principle – secure and automatic exchanges of data

“We need less bureaucratic as well as secure and automated exchanges of data between social security institutions and domestic and European public authorities, so that users only have to share their data once. This “once-only principle” at every level would significantly reduce the administrative workload of the public authorities and social insurance providers,” explained the Head of the BA, Andrea Nahles.

Solving the key task of securing skilled workers through digitalisation and structural reforms!

"The important investments in lean, digital processes must also go hand in hand with structural changes in the health and care sectors. The digital transformation in the field of care, the alignment of the care structures with the actual needs of the population, cross-sectoral forms of treatment and specialisations can make a major contribution to the more targeted use of valuable human resources,” explained the Head of the GKV, Dr. Doris Pfeiffer.

Acceleration through partnership-based discussions

“In terms of users, customers and employees as well as experience and achievements, the social insurance institutions are very competent and relevant when it comes to digitalisation – after all, almost everyone is covered by social insurance. It therefore makes sense to involve the social insurance providers in the coordination processes of the IT planning committee for the digitalisation of the public services. This would improve the collaboration and discussions and could accelerate the pace of implementing the digitalisation of the public services in Germany,” concluded Gundula Roßbach, President of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (the German Federal Pension Insurance system).