Social elections at a glance: Our choice for pensions and health

Every six years, the German Federal Pension Insurance (Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund), the German Pension Insurance Saarland (Deutsche Rentenversicherung Saarland) and the Substitute Insurance Funds (Ersatzkassen) put on a social election. Social elections are the third largest elections in Germany after the Bundestag and European elections. Over 51 million insured persons and pensioners are entitled to vote. They determine who sits in the health insurance funds and pension insurance parliaments and makes the important decisions there. Insured persons and pensioners have their own parliaments so that social insurance is self-administered. The principle: Whoever pays or has paid contributions should also have a say.

Social elections occur only via postal ballot. Voters will receive their election documents by post in mid-April. Anyone who receives election documents from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund or the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Saarland and their health insurance fund is eligible to vote in both cases. Eligible voters mark off one of the lists, put the filled in ballot into the red electoral envelope and put it into a post box or take it to the post office. The election documents must have reached the insurance providers no later than 31 May 2017. The date of receipt is valid.

Blind and visually impaired insured persons can mark their ballot by means of tactile voting devices. These will be provided free of charge upon request together with an audio CD.

BARMER members vote later. With the merger of BARMER GEK and Deutsche BKK, the new BARMER was established on 1 January 2017. This has had consequences for the election calendar, so the Federal Election Commissioner therefore set a special election date for BARMER members: 4 October 2017. This will ensure that all parties have enough time to prepare for the election.

Insured persons and pensioners of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund and Saarland, as well as members of Substitute Insurance Funds who officially reside in EU and EEA countries or Switzerland may also participate in the primary elections.

The elected representatives in the self-governing parliaments decide on finances, the organization, the use of staff, and on all matters directly affecting the insured persons and pensioners. That’s how benefits can be adapted for the insured. They offer quick and free advice close to the insured persons, and they help settle disputes – without judges. In the Counter-Claim Committees of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund, the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Saarland and the Substitute Insurance Funds, representatives can evaluate the decisions of insurance providers in individual cases at the request of the insured. The social elections website ( provides a summary of important topics and questions about social elections and self-governance.

Under the menu item “Social elections” (“Sozialwahl”), you’ll find the most important information about social elections: Why there are elections, who is elected, and how the elections are carried out. Interviews with the Chairman of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund and the Chairman of the Association of Substitute Insurance Funds highlight the importance of this voluntary work.

Under “Self-Governance” (“Selbstverwaltung”), the website provides information on the tasks of self-governance. Interviews with representatives provide an insight into their fields of activity.

Under the menu item “Our Topics” (“Unsere Themen”), some concrete areas of self-governance are presented in more detail.Under “Our Supporters” (“Unsere Unterstützer”), prominent personalities express the importance of social elections and self-governance.

In the “Your Questions” (“Ihre Fragen”) section, you will find answers to frequently asked questions. In addition, the most important social election definitions are explained here.

The “Press” (“Presse”) section provides journalists and media representatives with press releases, background texts and summarized information on social elections and self-governance. In addition, media representatives can also find the contact details for the Social Elections Information Office.