Your guide to health insurance in Germany
If you are moving to, or are planning to move to, Germany it would be a good idea to secure health insurance coverage for you and your family. To help you find the best coverage, we have created this short guide that covers the most important things you need to know about health insurance in Germany. Read on, or click below for a free quote
Healthcare for expats in Germany
Healthcare in Germany can be confusing when you first start to look into it, largely because there are so many different options available to you. In order to make sense of it, many people tend to divide healthcare into two different types of care:
Outpatient care in Germany
Germany's healthcare system is set up in a way that encourages people to visit their family doctor when they get sick. While this is not legally mandated, the system has been in place for so long that it is the norm.
In fact, general practitioners, internists, and pediatricians working at outpatient clinics or offices are usually considered to be family doctors (Hausarzt). These doctors have the ability to refer people to specialists, but there is no legal mandate in place stating that they have to - you can go to specialists directly.
Like other countries, the majority of outpatient care in Germany is provided by self-employed doctors who run their own practices, or who are members of a joint venture between other practitioners. These practices, while private, are usually accredited by statutory health insurance providers (more on this below), which allow them to accept payment from and treat anyone with statutory health coverage.
Hospitals in the country are also able to offer outpatient care, which is usually defined as care received that does not require you to stay the night.
Inpatient care in Germany is offered almost exclusively at the various hospitals found throughout the country. These hospitals are either:
- Publicly funded
- Funded by a private charity
- Fully private
The vast majority of hospitals in the country will treat people regardless of whether they have public or private health insurance, however, some private hospitals will only treat you if you have private health insurance.
Like nearly every other country, inpatient care in Germany is defined as any care that requires you to stay overnight at a hospital. Interestingly, treatments such as rehabilitation and related therapy are also considered to be inpatient care. For example, physical and rehabilitative surgery after a major surgery are both considered to be inpatient care.
Options for health insurance in Germany
First and foremost, it is important to note that health insurance is mandatory in Germany. This means that if you are going to be moving here either for work or for school, you will be required to have health insurance before a visa will be issued.
When it comes to health insurance in Germany, there are two general types of insurance available for all to secure:
Also referred to as 'sickness funds' in Germany, or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung - GKV in German, this type of insurance is funded by compulsory contributions (up to just over 14% of your income and split by both you and the employer) made from wages, and affords people universal cover; thereby allowing them to receive almost any form of health care at either hospitals or clinics.
The important thing to be aware of here is that it is mandatory for almost all employed in Germany to secure this form of insurance. If you make more than EUR 56,250 per year (as of 2016), however, you can opt out of this form of insurance and secure private health coverage.
Due to its universal nature and compulsory requirements, the German Medical Association reports that "About 90 % of the population are covered by statutory health insurance."
As statutory insurance is funded by income contributions, those making over a specific threshold might find that the contribution is more than the premium associated with private insurance plans.
Due to this, and the fact that some specific groups are not covered by statutory insurance, people in Germany are able to purchase private health insurance. Like in many other countries, private insurance premiums are assessed based on one's risk, meaning that older applicants will usually pay higher premiums.
One important thing to be aware of here is that, when it comes to private health insurance in Germany, you are still required to have a relevant plan in order to secure a visa or work permit. This means that the plan you secure should be from a licensed provider based in Germany.
What type of health insurance should expats purchase in Germany?
If you will be moving to Germany in the near future, you might be wondering what type of health insurance you should consider.
As mentioned above, if you will be moving for a longer period of time (over 1 year) you should consider health insurance coverage from an insurer with a license to operate in Germany. As to the type, if you will make below the threshold above (EUD 56,250/year) then statutory insurance should be fine. If you will be making above this amount, it would be worth looking at private insurance premiums.
Should you be moving from other countries in the EU, then your EU health card will be accepted. However, if you will be in Germany for work or moving there, then you should pick up a German-based plan within six months.
What about students, or those on working holidays?
If you are a student from the EU who will be going to school in Germany, then your statutory insurance should be adequate. Statutory insurers in Germany should accept you.
If you will be coming from outside of the EU, and will not be working, then private insurance would be advisable.
How to find the best health insurance in Germany
Looking for the best private health insurance in Germany? Contact the advisors at Pacific Prime. We can work with you to find a plan that will meet your coverage needs, as well as your budget.