Germany accused of 'deporting' its elderly: Rising numbers moved to Asia and Eastern Europe because of sky-high care costsCountry's elderly and sick being sent abroad due to rising care costsSituation described as 'inhumane deportation' and a huge 'alarm signal'
Warning to Britain where pensioners are selling homes to pay for healthcare
22:17 GMT, 27 December 2012
German pensioners are being sent to care homes in Eastern Europe and Asia in what has been described as an ‘inhumane deportation’.
Rising numbers of the elderly and sick are moved overseas for long-term care because of sky-high costs at home.
Some private healthcare providers are even building homes overseas, while state insurers are also investigating whether they can care for their clients abroad.
Experts describe a time bomb’ of increasing numbers unable to afford the growing costs of retirement homes.
Inhumane: Rising numbers of Germany's elderly and sick are being sent to care homes in Eastern Europe and Asia because of rising care home costs
And they say the situation should be a warning to Britain, where rising numbers of pensioners are forced to sell their homes to pay for care.
The Sozialverband Deutschland (VdK), a socio-political advisory group, said the fact that many Germans were unable to afford the costs of a retirement home in their own country was a huge ‘alarm signal’.
‘We simply cannot let those people, who built Germany up to be what it is, be deported,’ VdK’s president Ulrike Mascher told The Guardian. ‘It is inhumane.’
Researchers found an estimated 7,146 German pensioners living in retirement homes in Hungary in 2011.
More than 3,000 were in the Czech Republic and more than 600 in Slovakia. There were also unknown numbers in Spain, Greece and the Ukraine, as well as Thailand and the Philippines.
Some told researchers they were there out of choice as costs were lower, while standards of care were often higher.
But many others admitted they moved reluctantly.
Criticism: Experts have described the 'time bomb' of increasing numbers unable to afford the growing costs of retirement homes, while others have spoken of 'inhumane deportation' (stock image)
According to Germany’s federal bureau of statistics, more than 400,000 senior citizens cannot afford a German retirement home, a figure growing by around 5 per cent a year. This is because many are living for longer while their pensions are stagnating.
As a result, the Krankenkassen – or statutory insurers that make up Germany’s state insurance system – are discussing cheaper care in foreign retirement homes.
EU law prevents state insurers from signing contracts with overseas homes.
But that is likely to change as legislators are forced to respond to Europe’s ageing population.
Artur Frank, the owner of Senior Palace – which finds care homes for Germans in Slovakia – said it was wrong to suggest senior citizens were being ‘deported’.
‘Many are here of their own free will, the results of sensible decisions by their families who know they will be better off,’ he said.