The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is currently sending out invitations to a comprehensive survey on the general health of the population. 180,000 letters were and are being sent for this purpose. But even if you are not interested in taking part, you should not throw away the letter immediately. In order to recruit as many test subjects as possible for the study, the institute sent along a small “persuasion aid” – a five-euro note. The small fee is intended to motivate people to participate, but the Taxpayers’ Association was outraged and spoke of tax waste.

Even if the nature of the study invitation may seem bizarre, it has a serious background. There is currently no comparable public health survey. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) told the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” that it was a “health policy scandal that we currently have no representative overview of how healthy the population actually is.”

According to Lauterbach, it is currently not known how many Germans have disabilities, are mentally ill or suffer from pain on a daily basis. RKI President Lars Schaade explained: “The panel is an important instrument to improve the health of people in the country.”

And this also applies, especially to the younger population. The RKI hopes to be able to motivate 30,000 people aged 16 and over to take part in the study with the five euros sent along. The scientists hope that a further 70,000 people will take part voluntarily.

The focus of the survey is a block of questions about illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders, general well-being, quality of life and chronic stress. The spread of post-Covid syndrome should also be investigated. We also ask what gender the participant is and which socio-demographic indicators apply. For example, migration status and income. The aim is to get an idea of ​​which population groups have particular need for support.

In the future, such a study should be carried out every two years in order to be able to monitor and respond to developments in public health.

As sensible as the reason for the survey is, its implementation is worthy of criticism, according to the Taxpayers’ Association. According to the RKI, 180,000 five-euro letters should be sent, which makes 900,000 euros just for recruiting study participants. It is not unusual for participation in a scientific study to be paid or at least financially compensated. In this current case, the RKI is taking the risk of sending money to selected people without them actually taking part in the study.

The President of the Taxpayers’ Association, Reiner Holznagel, told the Germany editorial network: “Apparently all taxpayers are spending money on a select group of people.” Because public funds flow, there must be “detailed explanations”. As long as these are not available, the survey should be stopped, says Holznagel.

Sources:,, RKI press release