Private Health Insurance Germany
In Germany, health insurance is required by law. In other words, everyone living in Germany must have some form of German health insurance. You can choose between German private health insurance (if you quality for it*) or public health insurance. This guide explains the German healthcare system and covers private health insurance in Germany for expats in detail.
Below is a quick overview of public health insurance vs. private health insurance in Germany (with Ottonova as the example because it is a health insurance company built for expats)!
- Monthly Cost for Coverage (Example)
- Free Choice of Hospitals
- Reimbursement for All Medications
- All Outpatient Doctors Covered
- Worldwide Coverage
- Dental Up To 90%
- Visual Aids Reimbursement
Public Health Insurance
Private Health Insurance
1. How German Healthcare Works
Private & Public Health Insurance
The German healthcare system is comprised of private health insurance and public (statutory/state) health insurance. It is a universal healthcare system. This means that it is based off the principle that everyone pays into the healthcare system, and everyone benefits from the healthcare system. Private health insurance and public health insurance have many differences. For example, public health insurance covers all your dependents (e.g. spouse/children) for no additional costs. To the contrary, for private health insurance in Germany, you have to pay for each individual you want to include on your policy. However, private health insurance usually offers a wider range of healthcare services.
One of the most important things to do when you move to Germany is get German health insurance! It is compulsory to have German health insurance if you live in Germany – not voluntary. In some cases, however, people can choose between getting private health insurance or public health insurance. In addition, non-EU citizens usually have to provide documents of valid German health insurance in order to get a visa/residency permit in Germany. Therefore, you should check that your health insurance company fulfills the requirements for a German visa/residency permit.
It should also be noted that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your home country is not sufficient. You still need to be insured under a German health insurance company. German residents cannot substitute the European Health Insurance Card for German health insurance. The EHIC is for temporary visitors in Germany, not permanent residents.
Leading Healthcare System
Germany’s healthcare system is one of the leading healthcare systems in Europe. Whether you go to a doctor’s office in a large city like Berlin or a small town like Bamberg, you will receive good healthcare. This article is the perfect guide for information on support and health insurance in Germany!
*German private health insurance can also be abbreviate to PKV. Public health insurance is also written as GKV or SHI (Statutory Health Insurance).
2. How Private Health Insurance in Germany Works
How Payments Work
When it comes to paying for medical care, private health insurance in Germany is unlike public health insurance. Here’s how it works for private health insurance: First, you visit the doctor. Then the doctor/hospital sends you an invoice for the visit and treatments. Afterwards, you send the invoice to your health insurance company. Your insurance company looks over the invoice, and sends you a reimbursement. Lastly, you use this reimbursement to pay the doctor/hospital bill.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages
In Germany, around 10% of people are insured with a private health insurance company. The other 90% have public health insurance. Not everyone is eligible for private health insurance. This contributes to why only 10% of people have private health insurance. But – if you’re eligible for private health insurance, then you could save a lot of money. Therefore, it’s worth taking a look at your options.
Some advantages of private health insurance in Germany include shorter wait times for doctor’s appointments, more comprehensive coverage, and an easier time getting an appointment with a specialist. As for disadvantages, you have to pay separate premiums for each dependent you add to your policy. So, for example, if you have 3 children and a partner then you need to pay a premium for each of them. To the contrary, public health insurance covers all of your dependents and yourself under one premium.
3. What’s Covered
Private health insurance in Germany covers a wider range of medical services than public health insurance in Germany. For instance, private health insurance companies covers more dental care than public health insurance. Furthermore, people with German private health insurance have more access to doctors that speak English, private rooms in hospitals, private practice doctors, and specialty treatments.
Moreover, you can customize your private health insurance policy. In general, you can get coverage for outpatient medical treatments, emergency ambulance transportation, specialty treatments, doctor’s fees, medicine and medical aids.
Not everyone qualifies for private health insurance in Germany. If this is you – don’t worry! If you want some of the coverage that private health insurance offers, there is a solution. You can supplement your public health insurance with private health insurance in Germany. For instance, if you want better coverage for dental care then you can buy supplementary dental insurance from a private health insurance provider. (More about dental insurance in the FAQ.*)
How Coverage for Dependents Works
When it comes to coverage for dependents, public health insurance and private health insurance are completely different. For public health insurance, all non-working dependents can be included on your policy for no additional cost. To the contrary, for German private health insurance you have to pay for each dependent you want on your plan. For instance, let’s say you need to insure 3 dependents (e.g. 2 children and your spouse) and yourself. In this case, you would need to pay 4 separate premiums.
4. Who can get private health insurance in Germany?
You can get private health insurance in Germany if you fall into any of these categories:
- Self employed/Freelancers
- Civil servants (e.g. professors)
- Earn a yearly income above 62,550€ (as of 2020)
- Students who renounce their public health insurance
- You work part-time and don’t earn more than 450€ per month.
5. Cost of German Private Health Insurance
Your Age & Health
Your age impacts how much you pay for private health insurance. Therefore, the older you are, the more expensive your plan could be. This means that, in theory, a 55-year-old with private health insurance in Germany would pay more than a 25-year-old. It’s important to note, however, that pre-existing health conditions also impact the cost. For example, if you have asthma then the price of your premium would be higher than someone with no pre-existing health conditions. As a general rule of thumb, private health insurance premiums are cheaper the younger and healthier you are.
How many dependents you include on your plan impacts how much it costs. For private health insurance, you have to pay for each dependent you need to insure. As a result, private health insurance will be get more expensive as you add dependents to your plan. For example, let’s say you need to insure your 2 children, spouse and yourself. Well, in this case, you would pay 4 separate premiums. On the other hand, public health insurance policies include dependents for no additional cost. For really big families, public health insurance is sometimes the cheaper option.
Oftentimes, you can modify the cost of your private health insurance premium by increasing or decreasing your deductible (sometimes called an excess). A deductible is how much you pay for your medical bills before your insurance kicks in. For instance, let’s say you have a €1,500 medical bill, and your deductible is €500. Well, in this case, you would pay €500 and your insurance would pay the other €1,000. If you increase your deductible then you can decrease your monthly premium.
If you’re young, have a high salary, don’t have pre-existing health conditions and don’t have a lot of dependents then private health insurance will almost always be cheaper than public health insurance.
Many people living in Germany with big incomes choose private health insurance. Part of this is because the cost of public health insurance is derived from your income. In other words, you pay more for public health insurance as your salary increases. Therefore, private health insurance can be the cheaper option for a lot of people in Germany.
It’s important to note that foreigners can get private health insurance for cheaper rates with the health insurance provider Ottonova. However, you should know that it is extremely challenging to switch from private health insurance to public health insurance. Therefore, make sure you weigh all your options.
Simply put, the cost of private health insurance depends on your age, health and number of dependents. As a result, how much you pay for private health insurance normally increases as you get older or if you add dependents to your plan.
6. How Much Can You Save?
Depending on income, the average person in Germany pays between 180€ and 800€ a month for public health insurance. By getting private health insurance, however, you can pay as little as 165€ a month because income is not a factor in the price. Thats a possible savings of 635€ per month, and over 7500€ a year!
Private health insurance is also significantly more inclusive of people with special health needs, and offers more policy customization for specific types of coverage.
7. Best Private Health Insurance in Germany for Expats
Health insurance is required when you live in Germany. Many people move to Germany get German public health insurance without giving considering German private health insurance. DON’T BE THIS PERSON!
Private heath insurance offers all the benefits and more of public health insurance, often for a much better price.
Ottonova is the only private health insurance company in Germany that puts a focus on working with expats/non-German speakers.
Furthermore, Ottonova has an English website and a specially discounted private health insurance package just for expats!
Services For Expats
Out of all the private health insurance companies in Germany, Ottonova is one of the best for expats. There are three main reasons for this. First, Ottonova has cheaper prices for expats. This is the “Special Expat Tariff” and it just means that foreigners in Germany get a better price! Secondly, Ottonova offers all of its services in English! It has an app in English, which makes it really easy to submit invoices for reimbursements. Ottonova also has English customer support. Lastly, Ottonova fulfills all the health insurance requirements to get a visa/residency permit in Germany!
Ottonova health insurance also covers a wide range of medical services. It covers medication costs, prenatal courses, glasses and contact lenses, speciality treatments, outpatient medical treatment and more!
8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Is The Best Private Health Insurance Company In Germany?
The best private health insurance company in Germany for expats/foreigners living in Germany is Ottonova. Ottonova has all of its service available in English as well as cheaper prices for expats.
How Do I Get Health Insurance In Germany?
The process for getting health insurance in Germany is really simple. For insurance companies like TK and Ottonova, you can apply online.
If you’re employed and choose public health insurance then you will tell your employer which public health insurance company you’ve chosen. Then your employer will help you set up payments. Your employer will pay 50% of your public (state) health insurance contribution and you will pay the other 50%.
If you have private health insurance then you will work out the payments with the private health insurance company yourself.
How Can I Make My Private Health Insurance Cheaper?
You can lower your German private health insurance monthly premium by choosing to pay a deductible (i.e. a voluntary excess). This means that you will pay a portion of your medical bills before your insurance company pays. For example, if your deductible is €300 and your medical bill is €500, then you would pay the €300 and your insurance company would pay the remaining €200.
Having a higher deductible makes your monthly premium cheaper.
How Does Dental Insurance Work?
Most private health insurance companies in Germany, like Ottonova, have policies that include coverage for dental work. However, if you have public health insurance then you can buy supplemental dental insurance from a private health insurance company.
What Are The Benefits Of Ottonova Health Insurance In Germany?
- A website in English
- A discounted private health insurance package for expats
- No paperwork involved. You can sign up online and use their app.
- 24/7 English support.
- Fulfills all legal requirements for getting your visa.
- Reimburse you for all medications doctors or dentists prescribe you. For example, you can be reimbursed for medications and dressing like compression braces, bandages, casts and other related materials. Ottonova also offers reimbursements for contraceptives until age 20.
- Reimbursements for visual aids for up to 300€ every 2 years.
- Worldwide coverage
Can I Have Both Public And Private Health Insurance?
What Are The Benefits Of Having Private Health Insurance?
Benefits of Private Health Insurance
For people with very high incomes, private health insurance can be less expensive than public health insurance since the cost of public insurance is based on your income.
- Access to private practice doctors
- Sometimes offers more comprehensive coverage for procedures
- Better access to semi-private and private rooms in hospitals
- Access to doctors who speak your language
- Option to lower the monthly payment if you have a deductible (sometimes referred to as an excess)
When Do I Need German Health Insurance?
By law, you always need to have German health insurance if you’re living in Germany. You should prepare even before you arrive to Germany if you’re not from the European Union (EU). One reason for this is because non-EU citizens must provide proof of German health insurance when they applying for a German residency permit/ visa. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress by starting this process ahead of time.
It’s a little different if you are from a country within the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. . You can start the process of getting German health insurance after you arrive to Germany. For a limited time, you can use your EHIC card. However, the EHIC card cannot be used as a substitute for German health insurance. It’s for temporary travelers in Germany, not longterm residents. Therefore, you still need to get German health insurance.
A rule that applies to both non-EU expats and EU expats: You must apply for German health insurance within 3 months from when you become a resident of Germany.
What Is The Best Health Insurance Company For Students?
Health Insurance for Students
If you’re a student in Germany then you need to have German health insurance. The public health insurance company, TK (or Techniker Krankenkasse), is a great option. As for private health insurance, Ottonova is one of the best providers.
TK offers medical coverage abroad and has an online application, in English, for students! It’s really easy to get covered through TK. Ottonova is also really easy. You can sign up online. You can even sign up before you get to Germany. One less thing you’ll have to worry about! Most importantly, TK and Ottonova meet the visa requirements in Germany.
What Is The Best Health Insurance For Freelancers In Germany?
Everyone living in Germany in required to have German health insurance. Freelancers can choose to have either public health insurance or private health insurance. The best health insurance in Germany for freelancers depends on your specific needs.
Best German public health insurance for freelancers
Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is a great public health insurance company for freelancers in Germany.
* You can calculate how much will have to pay as a freelancer through TK’s contribution calculator for self-employed. It is important to note that this is in German! If you have Google Chrome, however, you can translate it to English.
Best German private health insurance for freelancers
Ottonova is the only private health insurance company in Germany that focuses largely on working with expats/non-German speakers.
Furthermore, Ottonova has an English website and a specially discounted private health insurance package just for expats!
Is Healthcare In Germany Free?
No. Health care in Germany is not free. You have to pay for either public health insurance or private health insurance. If you have public health insurance, the price is based off your income. It is 14.6% of your income (as of 2020). This amount is split equally between you and your employer. Therefore, your employer pays 7.3% and you pay 7.3%. The cost of private health insurance is mostly based off your age and health.
How Expensive Is German Health Insurance?
The cost of German health insurance depends on a lot of different factors. First, it depends on where you have public health insurance or private health insurance.
For public health insurance, the state healthcare contribution is 14.6% of your paycheck (as of 2020). This amount is split evenly between you and your employer, so you each pay 7.3%.
The cost of private health insurance is based off many different factors, including your age, health risks, and number of dependents you need to insure.
Can Freelancers/Self-Employed Switch From Private To Public Health Insurance?
German law makes switching to public health insurance after having private health insurance very challenging. There are only a couple situations in which a freelancer might be able to switch from private health insurance to public health insurance:
- The freelancer becomes a regular employee and their income is lower than 62,550€ per year (as of 2020).
- The freelancer becomes unemployed.
Is Health Insurance Mandatory In Germany?
Yes – health insurance in Germany is mandatory. In other words, you must get health insurance if you live in Germany.
Does Private Health Insurance Include Long-Term Care Insurance?
The law in Germany requires that all private health insurance companies offer long-term care insurance as part of their insurance plans.
Who wrote this?
My name is Bastian and I am a certified, independent insurance broker in Germany. My wife is American and together we help English-speaking expats figure out insurance, banking, and other issues encountered when moving to/living in Germany.
I also own Germany’s biggest Youtube-Channel about insurance knowledge and was honored with the “Education Award of the German Insurance Industry” in 2018 and became “Young Broker of the Year” in 2017.