Germany accused of 'deporting' its elderly
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.
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.