Germany undoubtedly has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, with nearly all of the population having health insurance. Getting health insurance is mandatory for each resident, including expats living in Germany who are on a short trip. They should have at least the minimum level of coverage if anything.
There are three types of health insurance available in the country; the first one is public and state-funded health insurance, private health insurance, or a combination of both. While most of the population opts for public health insurance, about 10% of the population chooses private health insurance because of its numerous benefits.
If you have opted for private health insurance, it is imperative that you choose the right insurance provider. There are plenty of insurance providers for expats, but you must choose one who gives you the best type of coverage suitable to your personal needs. This comprehensive guide covers all the essential points that expats must consider to choose the best private health insurance, provider.
Who Should Go for Private Health Insurance?
People with high wages and self-employed individuals, such as business owners or freelancers, have the option to choose private health insurance. They can opt out of the state-provided health insurance and choose this one since it tends to be more comprehensive and cover costs from private hospitals and healthcare providers.
To sum, the people who qualify for private health insurance can even include expats living in Germany if they are one of the following:
- Civil servants
- Business owners
- Those who earn above 64,350 euros per year
- Students between the ages of 24 and 30
Why Opt for Private Health Insurance?
While the public health insurance in Germany is also excellent, if expats qualify for private health insurance, they may choose it because it provides numerous benefits. For example, it normally leads to shorter appointment waiting times, access to private healthcare providers and hospitals, and a wider range of services.
Moreover, individuals with private health insurance can choose either private doctors or those doctors in the public sector. They can choose either based on their preference, needs, and convenience. It can even allow you to get a private room in the hospital after treatment or procedures.
Checklist to Help Choose the Best Private Health Insurance Providers
There are over forty private health insurance providers in Germany that expats can consider choosing. Expat health insurance in Germany can also include private health insurance, which is why individuals coming from other countries who meet the criteria can apply for this type of insurance.
This is why they should follow certain steps to research and then choose the most suitable insurance provider based on their healthcare needs and problems.
1. Understand What Private Health Insurance Includes and Possible Drawbacks
Since the public healthcare system in Germany is one of the best in the world, most individuals do not feel the need to opt for private health insurance. This is why individuals considering this type of insurance must do plentiful research to understand what medical costs it can cover and the possible drawbacks of this insurance plan.
Private health insurance can cover the cost of medical treatments, prescriptions, emergency visits, therapy, and other medical procedures. However, this largely depends on the type of plan it is. Most basic plans offer the same facilities and services that the regular public health insurance plan covers.
Going with a premium private health insurance plan will be more comprehensive and cover more costs. However, these plans may also be more expensive. Another possible drawback of private health insurance is that the monthly payments tend to increase over time as you become older and more health complications arise. However, this can be alleviated by swapping and changing insurance providers.
Lastly, having private health insurance can often be a hassle since you will need to pay doctor fees and hospital bills yourself and then go to the insurer to claim it back. This is not the case with public health insurance in Germany.
2. Figure Out How Much You Can Afford to Pay Monthly
Private health insurance monthly costs may vary depending on multiple factors. Some of these include the insurance provider, your occupation, type of plan you choose, your health problems, age, and health risks. This is why you should contact different health insurance providers and discuss the monthly costs.
You should opt for a private health insurance plan that fits your budget. In some cases, if you are not a business owner or self-employed, your employer might be paying for half of the cost. In that case, you should figure out how much you will be paying on a monthly basis.
Furthermore, you can also control the excess amount, which is the portion of the medical cost you will pay yourself before the insurance provider steps in. If you keep these costs high, your monthly payment cost will be lowered.
Your monthly cost should likely include the overall monthly health insurance you are paying for your entire family. There is one monthly cost for the entire family in public health insurance, but this is not the case with private health insurance. You will likely need to purchase private health insurance plans for each individual of the family, including children.
3. Choose the Right Private Health Insurance Plan
Once you have figured out your budget and healthcare needs, it is time to contact health insurance providers and discuss what plans they can offer you. You must review everything that the plan offers to know exactly what is included and what you are paying for.
Explore different health insurance providers and compare the packages, plans, and monthly payments they are offering. After this, you will be able to choose a plan that best fits your needs and budget. These are the key factors you must consider when reviewing each private health insurance plan:
- Does it include prescription medication coverage?
- Does it include vision and dental coverage (If it is something you require)?
- Does it cover pregnancy and childbirth?
- Does it cover annual checkup doctor appointments?
- What hospitals are included?
4. Unsubscribe from Public Health Insurance
If you have already enrolled in the public health insurance plan, you will need to unsubscribe from it before switching to the private health insurance plan. You can easily do this by letting your employer or insurance provider know that you wish to unsubscribe. Your procedure to un-enroll from the plan will begin, which will likely take two months. Once it is done, you can then apply for private health insurance.
If you have just arrived in the country and have not yet enrolled in any type of insurance, you will simply need to let your employer know that a private insurance provider would rather cover you. You will also need to inform them which provider or insurance company you have chosen. This will prevent you from automatically being enrolled in public health insurance.
5. Subscribe to Private Health Insurance
Once you have chosen which private health insurance company and provider to go with and un-enrolled from public health insurance, you can register with the provider. You will likely need to give them information about your employment, employer, health records, and your citizenship status in the country.
For expat health insurance in Germany, you should first be a registered citizen in the country before you apply for health insurance. For those expats coming from a non-EU country, you will need to get health insurance before arriving in Germany. This will help you register yourself as a citizen of the country.
Once you register for private health insurance, you will be sent your private health card via post. The card will contain relevant information about you and your private health insurance coverage. It should be presented to the hospital, pharmacy, or doctor in order to speed up appointment times and insurance claims.
6. Swap Private Health Insurance Provider Sometime Later
The monthly cost of your private expat health insurance in Germany will likely increase over time. It is recommended that at this point, you swap and change your health insurance provider and company to someone who will offer the same plan and benefits at better rates.
If you wish to change your provider, you will need to inform your current insurance provider at least two to three months before the end of the year. Similarly, if you want to cancel your policy or change to a new one, you will need to inform your current provider beforehand.
It is important to note that reverting back to public health insurance schemes is difficult once you have registered for private health insurance. However, the transition will be easier if your yearly salary has decreased and does not meet private health insurance criteria anymore.
The process of finding the best plans for expat health insurance in Germany can be arduous and challenging, especially if you don’t know the language to begin with. For this reason, it can be helpful to seek guidance from trusted advisor. This is what we specialize in here at MW Expat Solution Services. Let us provide you with more clarity on which plans to go for and help you with the application process as well. Contact us for a free consultation here.