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Health Insurance in Germany

If you plan on moving to Germany, you should get yourself familiar with its health insurance system. In fact, you won’t be able to acquire a residency permit or even start a job if you don’t. Health insurance in Germany is mandatory for everyone, no matter what their employment status may be or if they’re an employee at a company or a freelancer.

Germany has one of the best health care systems in the world. Around 87% of all Germans (which is about 70 million), have some form of health coverage. Stick around if you’d like to know more about German healthcare, different types of insurance, as well as how you can acquire it.

Last Update: April 2020

Public Health Insurance in Germany


Public insurance is by far the most common form of health insurance in Germany. All German employees that make €60.750 or less per year must have some form of public health coverage. However, it’s up to them to pick their own providers.  

Health Insurance Providers in Germany 

There are more than a hundred public insurance providers in Germany. Still, a few companies account for the majority of German employees. Among those, the three that stand out the most are the Techniker Krankenkasse or TK, Barmer GEK, and the AOK Gesundheitskasse. No matter which of these companies you go with, you’ll have more or less the same experience regarding the conditions and coverage.  

However, if you’re an expat, you might want to take a closer look at TK. They have the best English-speaking team out of the three. So, if you don’t speak much German, you can still get adequate customer support if you go with TK. 

What Does Public Insurance Cover? 

Public health insurance in Germany should cover all types of urgent care, as well as any check-ups you might need.

However, when it comes to any additional, nonessential treatments, you’ll probably need to pay for those out of your own pocket. For instance, dental fillings should be free, since you need them to prevent damaged teeth from getting infected. On the other hand, you’d have to pay for teeth cleaning or polishing, since it serves a purely aesthetic purpose. 

As far as the costs are concerned, they usually end up taking about 15% of your gross income. However, your employer must pay for half of your insurance, so it usually comes down to about 8% when you include any additional fees and taxes. Besides that, your employer is responsible for all the paperwork, which should take some weight off your shoulders.  

Finally, your plan should also cover your closest family members — your partner and children (up to a certain age).


Additional Insurance


If you’re already using public health insurance in Germany, but need some extra care, you might want to get additional insurance. This type of insurance typically covers inpatient and outpatient treatments, as well as some advanced dental procedures. Besides that, you can get some extra amenities such as a private room, in case you need to spend some time in a hospital. 

Additional insurance should also cover accidents, disabilities, and travel. In fact, most Germans opt for this type of insurance when going on a holiday outside of the Schengen area, as the public plan typically doesn’t cover that. 


Private Health Insurance in Germany


Of course, you can always choose to go with a private health insurance company instead of the public plan. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one, if you’re employed, your employer is only obligated to participate in a private health insurance program if your salary exceeds €60,750 a year. And if you make less than that, you’ll probably have to pay for the whole plan by yourself.  

Civil servants are an exception. They have the right to choose private health insurance regardless of the size of their salary. 

 Freelancers can also choose between the state plan and a private plan. However, part-time workers who make less than €450 a month aren’t eligible for public health insurance, so they have to go with a private plan. 

Even though private health insurance can cost up to €700 a month, it covers a wider variety of medical treatments than the state plan. You can choose your own plan to fit your requirements, so you don’t have to pay extra for things you don’t need.  

However, the cost won’t depend on the size of your salary, as many people think. Instead, the insurance company will calculate a fixed premium based on your age, occupation, and pre-existing medical conditions. 


Incoming Health Insurance in Germany


As an expat, you’ll probably need to jump through hoops before you can enroll in public health insurance. On the other hand, private insurance can turn out to be quite expensive, especially for a newcomer. Still, you need to have some form of health insurance in Germany to qualify for a residence permit. So, if you’re from a non-EU country and you plan on moving to Germany, incoming health insurance might be your best option.

This program will help you stay safe and insured at an affordable price, and it doesn’t come with any strings attached. You can think of it as an extended form of travel insurance, lasting up to two years. 

Also, existing incoming insurance won’t get in your way in case you want to qualify for public insurance later on. However, you can also cancel it if you wish to leave Germany. 


How Employees Can Get Health Insurance


Employee health insurance in Germany works in two tiers based on your annual salary. Firstly, all employees making €60,750 or less a year use the public health insurance system. The employer takes care of all the necessary paperwork, you only need to sign the contract. However, you can still choose a certain provider if you wish. And no matter which provider you choose, all payments will go directly through your monthly salary.

On the other hand, if you make more than €60,750 a year, you have the option of switching to private health insurance. Aside from covering all types of different health plans, private insurance can surely cut the waiting time. The price varies, depending on your age, current health status, and a few other factors. 


How Freelancers Can Get Health Insurance 


Unfortunately, self-employment also means you have to take care of your own health insurance. It’s up to you to decide whether you want public or private insurance and which company you want to get it from.

When you’re an employee, your employer pays for half of your health insurance. Freelancers, however, have to pay for it all by themselves.

That takes up about 15% of the profits if you opt for public health insurance. In addition, you have to deal with all the paperwork, including personal information, previous employment, previous insurance, and billing details.

On the other hand, private health insurance in Germany might be a wiser choice for young freelancers. Since the cost of private insurance depends mostly on your age and health status, it might end up costing less than public health insurance. Also, if you don’t have a family yet, private insurance might be a better option than public. 

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