Germany to Reform Insurance System for Artists

German Reichstag in Berlin Photo: Jürgen Matern via Wikimedia Commons
German Reichstag in Berlin Photo: Jürgen Matern via Wikimedia Commons

The German government is in the process of a long-awaited reform of the so-called Künstlersozialkasse an agency that provides subsidized health, nursing, and retirement insurance to around 170,000 artists and creatives in the country, according to the dpa.

The reform is designed to inject an additional €32 million ($44.3 million) into the system annually. Anticipated to go before a committee on April 30th, the proposal includes strengthened compliance measures placed on corporations who are said to benefit from the work of the self-employed artists and cultural producers who are part of the Künstlersozialkasse.

In deference to their typically lower wages than full-time employees, the system allows its members to pay only 50 percent of the included insurance amounts as if they were employed by a company. The system has proved a boon to cultural production, especially in Berlin, where these economic considerations along with low rents have long attracted the creative class in droves. Both German citizens and foreign citizens residing in Germany can apply for membership.

Some German corporations have spoken out against the proposed reforms, however, citing that they rarely subcontract artists or other members of the Künstlersozialkasse. A previous, alternative suggestion to placing the burden on the private sector was to exact a self-employment tax on independent contractors in the country. However, that measure was met with harsh criticism, particularly in the capital, which is home to a disproportionate number of self-employed individuals.

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