DIE WELT (Germany)


BERLIN - A growing number of Germans are now moving to retirement homes in Eastern Europe, Spain or Thailand where aged care costs substantially less thanks in large part to lower staff salaries.

Die Welt has obtained figures not made public by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) showing that more and more Germans are unable to afford aged care in their native country.

Those receiving welfare rose in 2010 by 5% to 411,000 from 392,000 in 2009. VdK, a social community lobby group, says the sharp rise is grounds for alarm: “The risk of falling into poverty due to care needs has been growing for years,” says VdK president Ulrike Mascher.

Those needing government subsidies to finance their care rose in 2010, with a total government cost of 3.4 billion euros per year. Three-fourths of those receiving the subsidies live in retirement homes where the average monthly cost for a patient requiring the highest level of care is 2,900 euros. Insurance pays about 1,500 euros of that, while pensions have been stagnating for years.

Mascher says that there are currently 2.4 million people in need of state financial aid. That is expected to rise to 4.7 million by 2050, which would mean every 15th German would need to receive government subsidies, while there are less and less people who are able to support them.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Germany’s social security system is not adapted to high life expectancy and that if something is not done, the country is looking at a hole of up to 2 billion euros by 2050.