Germany's biggest health insurer to cut 3,500 jobs

BERLIN Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:48am EST

BERLIN Feb 24 (Reuters) - Barmer GEK, Germany's largest statutory health insurance provider, is slashing 3,500 jobs, or 20 percent of total staff, in response to deteriorating market conditions and changes in client behaviour.

Chief Executive Christoph Straub said in a statement on Monday that Barmer planned to cut back on the number of customer-facing offices and build up its phone and online services.

"Our analysis shows more and more customers are taking care of their business on the telephone or internet and fewer are coming into our offices," Straub said.

He added that the worsening financial conditions of health insurers was another factor.

"The financial condition of the health insurers is still good but it will deteriorate considerably," he said. Barmer's goal is to cut its annual costs by between 250 million euros ($344 million) and 300 million euros. ($1 = 0.7275 euros) (Reporting by Noah Barkin and Erik Kirschbaum)

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