Healthcare in Germany is a multi-payer system with hundreds of insurance companies. Your health insurance is not tied to your job, unlike in the USA, for example, allowing you some freedom of choice. However, not everyone can pick between public and private health insurance, which only around one tenth of German residents have. So what are the specifics and who can have private health insurance in Germany?
Quick overview of German health insurance
Health insurance in Germany is mandatory and universal, meaning you have to prove you have coverage if you’re staying in the country for more than 90 days and for reasons other than tourism. It’s also not free, so you’ll have to pay a share of the monthly costs.
Health insurance in Germany comes as “Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung” or statutory health insurance and “Private Krankenversicherung”, the private health insurance. The public option is not really an option in many cases: as an employee with a yearly income of less than €62,550 you’ll be insured in the public system.
Among the benefits are hospital care, out-patient care with registered doctors and basic dental care, while many things such as private doctors and private hospital rooms, alternative treatments, dental subsidies beyond basic care and care outside of the EU are not included in the public option. You can find out more about the differences between the public and private option in our overview of health insurance in Germany.
How to get German private health insurance
Who is eligible for private health insurance?
The private option is not available to everyone in Germany. You can only choose it if you are not required to be insured in the statutory health insurance. You’re eligible for German private health insurance in the following cases:
- You earn more than €62,550 as an employee per year (or €5,212.50 per month).
- You are self-employed, work as a freelancer or artist.
- You’re a civil servant.
- Students and doctors doing internships can also be exempted from compulsory insurance in the statutory health insurance.
Around seven million people in Germany or roughly ten percent of residents have private insurance.
What are the benefits?
Some of the benefits of having access to private health insurance in Germany are:
- The cost of health insurance is not based on your income.
- You have access to private doctors as well as semi-private and private hospital rooms.
- Your coverage for care, treatment and procedures will be more comprehensive.
- It’s much cheaper when you’re young and joining early is beneficial once you get older.
- You only choose what you need: selecting fewer options can reduce the cost of your coverage. You can customise your health insurance with options for dental coverage, travel insurance and special treatment, for example.
- You can adjust your deductible. For example, a €2,000 deductible means you have to cover that amount in medical fees yourself, but your insurance will pay everything after that per case or treatment. With a high deductible, you can save on monthly costs, a viable option for saving money if you’re healthy and hardly need treatment or see a doctor or specialist.
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What is the cost of private health insurance?
Public health insurance bases your monthly contributions on your income, so if you earn more, you’ll pay more–up to a maximum amount. A private health insurance will assess your situation based on a medical examination. How much you’ll have to contribute is therefore based on a cost-risk-analysis.
With costs depending primarily on your age and health, private health insurance gets more expensive with age. It will definitely be cheaper than the public option while you’re young, but can be much more expensive once you’re older, which is why it’s important to only choose private health insurance with a stable income situation.
Are there disadvantages?
The rising cost of German private health insurance can be an obvious disadvantage: as you get older, your monthly costs can go up to €1,500 per month for the same type of insurance you had when you were younger. Beware that with age and especially retirement, your income will decrease while your premium stays at the same level.
Health issues and pre-existing conditions will also add to the cost of your private insurance, which is another disadvantage. Constant treatment will increase your premium, and certain conditions might exclude you from coverage.
Which private health insurance to get in Germany?
Just like the difference between public and private health insurance can be significant, the benefits and options of individual private health insurance companies vary. Which choice is best for you depends on your circumstances, such as health and economic situation as well as the options you want to contract.
There are many websites which offer a free “Krankenkassenvergleich”, the option to compare the costs and benefits of both public and private companies while factoring in your employment situation and individual needs. You can also talk to an insurance broker to recommend a private health insurance, but make sure to pick an independent broker who doesn’t work with any specific company and has your best interests at heart.
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