Much like registering to live in Germany, (click here to find out about the Anmeldung process) securing health insurance in Germany is mandatory whilst you are living in the country. So, apart from the fact you simply have to have insurance in Germany, it’s also extremely worth it, especially if you end up sick, injured in an accident, become pregnant or even need to see your local general practitioner for a common cold.
In German, health insurance is known as Krankenversicherung, and you can be covered by either public or private insurance. Let’s break it down so you know which one is right for you.
Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung – State public insurance
The majority of employees in Germany are on this state German health insurance system, called Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV) and with most businesses; it is likely they will organise it for you upon your term of employment if you agree. However, you are free to then change your insurance provider after 18 months membership in your original allocated company. This health insurance is for people who earn up to €57,600 per year, It is the most common form of Krankenversicherung in Germany and is used by over 70 million people.
GKV covers you for GP doctors visit, in and outpatient hospital care, x-rays, sick leave, most medical treatments and medications, rehabilitation, basic dental and giving birth in Germany. It also covers spouses and children at no extra costs.
There are around 118 Insurance companies, Krankenkassen, in Germany to choose from and although they may vary in coverage, they all charge the same basic rate, which is 14.6%, plus a median supplemental rate of 1.1% of your gross salary.
Krankenversicherung – Private insurance
If you wish, you can switch to a private, and more extensive, health insurance known as Private Krankenversicherung (PKV), but if you earn less than €57,600 a year, you must stay on the state system. If you earn over this amount, are self-employed, or a civil servant, then the choice is yours.
PKV (private) doesn’t cover children or partners without extra charges and only around one in 10 German residents choose private insurance. You can, however, get access to more specialized treatments or particular doctors, a shorter waiting period for specialists, and access to doctors, which only see private health insurance customers. It is also more likely you’ll be able to find an English-speaking doctor when you need one.
There are up to 40 private insurance companies in Germany, with various benefit and premium combinations to suit your budget. If you wish to be privately insured but are moving to Germany for a work position, you’ll need to inform your place of employment as soon as possible to avoid any confusing cross over’s of predetermined insurance funds.
How do you choose?
It is different for everyone, but choosing a health insurance fund can become a very personal decision. It is important to think about your income: if you have family members dependent on you, your health, and how comfortable you are within the German health system and language.
One of the main differences between the two options is that on private you’ll most likely be covered for the entire amount charged, albeit you have to pay the practitioner first from your own pocket before claiming it all back with your insurance company. With state insurance, you pay a small co-payment at the time of picking up a prescription, or visiting a physician, and the amount will depend on the medication or service you are using. If it’s a dental bill you can expect to pay anywhere from 20% – 70% of the bill on state insurance. Private insurance covers much more in dental services.
The best advice on the topic of health insurance in Germany is to know exactly what you are covered for and how much you can expect to pay. But, regardless of if you are private or state, insurance contributions are split evenly between employees and employers. You also need health insurance in Germany if you are wishing to apply for a residence permit or German visa. For more detailed information on which heath insurance is right for you, speak to the experts and our partner at b-protected.