Therapy Turns Fatal For BU Insurance: Drastic Step Helps

One fifth of young people suffer from psychological problems (symbol image).

One fifth of young people suffer from psychological problems (symbol image). Image: iStockphoto/bunditinay


06/21/2022, 13:2006/21/2022, 14:45

Julia Jannaschk

“I have to leave early, I have therapy today.” Such co-worker phrases used to be unimaginable. Psychotherapy was something you did in secret and without saying a word about it.

Going to therapy is no longer taboo these days. The younger generation, in particular, openly talks about their own psychological challenges and actively confronts them. Even self-help books like “A Good Plan” suggest that psychotherapy should ideally become as normal as the annual check-up at the dentist.

Mental health care can be fatal

But what many young people do not consider in advance: that they may no longer get disability insurance (BU) after psychotherapy. Or only at very high rates.

“It’s been a big problem for years.”

Christa Roth-Sackenheim, President of the Professional Association of German Psychiatrists

“It’s been a big problem for years. I always have patients to whom this has happened,” confirms Christa Roth-Sackenheim, president of the Professional Association of German Psychiatrists.talking to watson.

Christa Roth-Sackenheim knows the problem of not getting a BU from her patients.

Christa Roth-Sackenheim knows the problem of not getting a BU from her patients.Private

According to the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) In 2020, the new insured took out their work disability insurance with an average age of 28 years. It is almost too late for a BU, because any more serious illness can become a reason for exclusion for the person to be insured.

Many young people have mental health problems

When you’re young and fit, you don’t usually think about becoming disabled at some point. But psychological problems can start early, and treatment can be fatal.

“It is striking that depression, burnout or other nervous disorders now appear very early in life and have an impact on the employment situation,” says Stefan Holzer, Member of the Executive Board of Swiss Life Germany.

“It was just a desperate story.”

Anna (23) in her attempt to obtain a BU

According to a representative YouGov survey commissioned by the Swiss Life insurance company, young people in particular suffer from mental illness. Consequently, a fifth of 18-24 year olds said they were chronically or long-term affected by burnout, stress, depression or nervous disorders. In the average age group between 25 and 54 years it was even a quarter.

The same thing happened to Anna, 23, from Berlin. She informs Watson:

“I first tried to get a BU when I was 18. It was a complex process back then – you really had to collect everything from all the doctors. Why is it so blatantly complex? Why can’t you just deposit with the health insurance company? But no, I had to go to all the places where I had something that was a little more tedious than a cold.”

This included, for example, rehabilitation for a knee injury or child and youth therapy at the age of 16. But Anna’s father forgot to submit the documents for the disability insurance. An omission from which he still suffers today.

“I had my second therapy when I was 20 years old and I think I was in the clinic a year or two later for the first time. Then I tried again to apply for a BU after this stay in the clinic. They could even have taken me, but with an insurance premium so absurdly high. I just can’t afford it. It was a dead end.”

One wonders: Are my benefits greater than my costs?

In itself, it is a positive development that it is no longer a taboo to seek professional help if you have problems. But the downside is that after therapy, depending on the provider, you may no longer be insured for BU for five to ten years.

We asked Holger Brendel, insurance spokesman for Huk Coburg, why this is so. When questioned by Watson, however, he remains vague, referring to individual evaluations and saying:

“We take appropriate and useful therapy into account in the evaluation. However, even after therapy has been carried out, there is a risk that the disease will return.”

“One in four will be disabled at least once in their life”

So the serious answer is: if you’ve had therapy before, you’re at higher risk of not being able to work in the future. According to an analysis of Swiss Life customer data, mental illness is the most common cause of work disability at 37% – this also corresponds to surveys of other insurers.

A 2018 study by the German Association of Actuaries, the professional representation of insurance, building societies and financial mathematicians working in Germany, shows: “One in four people will not be able to work at least once in their life” . Many of them due to mental health problems.

“Approximately 35 percent of benefit cases are no longer able to do their job due to mental illness. However, the number applies to all age groups of policyholders,” says Huk Coburg spokesman Holger Brendel .

Anyone suffering from mental health problems cannot simply hire a BU, or have to wait until after insurance has been purchased to begin therapy.

Anyone suffering from mental health problems cannot simply hire a BU, or have to wait until after insurance has been purchased to begin therapy. Image: iStockphoto / tommaso79

When Watson asked Stefan Lutter, a spokesman for the Hannoversche-Versicherung, he said that “the type of previous (mental) illness and the resulting prognosis also play an important role in assessing individual statistical risk.” And he admits: “But it is also true that, in the interest of the insured community, we have to reject applications that pose a risk that is too high or unpredictable.”

However, Lutter emphasizes that according to surveys by the German Insurance Association (GDV) in 2019, only four percent of all applications were rejected in the industry and across all age groups.

Psychotherapy and its consequences.

At some point, Anna decided to take steps herself to protect herself in case of disability: “Because I’ve also been diagnosed with ADHD in the meantime. It’s not at all unlikely that at some point I’ll only be able to work very little because of my psyche or maybe at some point I won’t even be able to work because I can’t work anymore.”

Your medium of choice for private security: financial investments such as ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds).

“So I don’t need to wait for a pension from the state. I’m definitely a little worried about what it’s going to be like at some point. I have to lay the groundwork to treat my psyche well and make sure I won’t be unable to work. you are immediately when you have something with the psyche”.

Christa Roth-Sackenheim considers that the current situation “remains a scandal”. Although professional psychological associations and specialized societies had already organized a congress with the German Medical Association and representatives of the insurance industry on the topic of occupational disability insurance a few years ago, nothing has changed.

“They basically talked themselves into it by saying, ‘As a private health insurance, we have different actuarial calculations than mandatory health insurance. We don’t have a supportive community, we calculate individually for each policyholder.'”

Anyone with mental health issues becomes a risk to insurance companies.

Anyone with mental health issues becomes a risk to insurance companies.Image: iStockphoto / fizkes

Delaying therapy: the only option?

So the general principle remains: if someone has diabetes, back problems, or mental health problems, then they don’t get any BI, either an extremely expensive one, or one that excludes all services related to the respective pre-existing condition.

But that doesn’t make any sense, according to expert Christa Roth-Sackenheim. Because therapy leads to the fact that there are no worse problems afterwards: “It has a long-term preventive effect.”

However, they do not believe that the insurers themselves will ever recognize this. Probably stay with those affected: “I think at some point someone has to sue and go all the way, otherwise nothing will change.”

“In this regard, I actually instruct patients in the situation to consider postponing treatment or, if necessary, paying privately.”

Psychologist Christa Roth-Sackenheim

The psychologist says: “In this sense, I actually instruct patients in the situation to consider postponing treatment or, if necessary, paying privately, simply because there are these possibilities of disadvantage.”

However, waiting for therapy due to BU was out of the question for Anna: “This hospital stay was really necessary because I had very severe panic attacks and they had to be treated. I was severely punished for it.”

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has started a debate on the introduction of compulsory social service for young people in Germany. “It is about the question of whether it would not be good for our country if women and men put themselves at the service of society for a certain period of time,” he told “Bild am Sonntag”.

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