Demographic and Long-Term Care Trends in Germany

The increasingly aging population throughout Europe has become an area of concern with wide implications in many areas including healthcare, fiscal sustainability and the general economy. Many countries that are currently undergoing this demographic change have had to make national policy changes in the areas of education, social protection, the labor market as well as Healthcare and Long-term Care, in order to keep up with the changing needs of their citizens.

Germany is no exception to this trend with a population of over 21 percent that is older than 65 years of age, it ranks second in the world in terms of its number of seniors. This percentage is expected to rise to about 40 percent by the year 2050.

One of the many issues that has surfaced as a result of these demographic changes include the dependency ratio (among parents and their children) and the expenses that come with it. Although Germany offers it’s citizens a sturdy and comprehensive benefits package, many people are struggling with the high costs associated with long-term care.

Health insurance in Germany provides coverage for senior citizens in need of high level care and assistance (e.g. about € 1600 per month). However even some of the most basic care needs amount to more than double the amounts provided. The extra costs can be a huge burden for many struggling families.
Even those families that do manage to cover the high cost of care for their elderly family members, often have complaints about the quality of care offered and the state of the facilities available.

The growing dissatisfaction with the cost and quality of German long-term care has led citizens to look for options abroad and many have been quite impressed with the services (and lower costs) offered under the Polish healthcare system. For a few years now there has been an increasingly ubiquitous trend among Germans to re-locate their elderly family members to long-term care facilities in Poland which operate at a significantly lower cost than those at home and many of which provide higher quality of care and better facilities (e.g. spas and wellness).

The trend has been noted in Poland and many long-term care facilities are now catering to foreign customers and making their services more accessible to international patrons by providing detailed information over the internet and specialized “Long–term care brokers” to help families in Germany find the facility that best suits their needs, both in terms of service expectations and financially.

Although the German government provides a substantially lower amount of coverage for long-term care abroad, this in combination with pension benefits are often enough to cover care, room and board in a Polish facility (often with a bit left over).

Currently, as many as 1 in 5 Germany families have considered seeking care for an elderly family member abroad and as the population continues to age, it is likely that this trend will continue to increase in the coming few years.

For further information on the German and Polish healthcare systems, please look into the TforG intelligence platforms or the Germany Deep Dive report and Poland Deep Dive report with 600 surgical procedure volumes.