The perks of private health insurance for expats in Germany
Public healthcare in Germany is not as catch-all as one might hope. Find out why going private could benefit both your health and your bank account.
Insurance providers in Germany's public healthcare system are required by law to provide a certain coverage for the entire population. While this includes a whole host of essential treatments, you might be surprised to discover that some medical conditions are, in fact, not covered. Additionally, as a consequence of recent hospital reforms, medical cost inflation, and Germany’s ageing population, the cost of public healthcare in Germany is rising every year.
To avoid paying more and more to an already strained public healthcare system, many residents of Germany are starting to look elsewhere to insure their health. Opting to take out private health insurance from a German insurance company – such as ottonova’s health insurance for expats earning €60,750+ a year – might be the best way to manage your health while in Germany.
Lower costs and priority status
Although dependent on your particular health situation, the cost of a private health insurance can actually be lower than what you might pay for public health insurance. For example, if you have high medication costs, public insurances only cover a small amount of these, whereas private healthcare providers will reimburse you much more generously. In general, your monthly premium for full medical insurance is based on the level of benefits chosen, as well as on your entry age and any pre-existing medical conditions, meaning your contribution is customized to your medical needs. A major portion of private medical insurance premiums has also been tax deductible from German income taxes since 2010.
Another benefit of private insurance, which may end up being a real lifesaver, is the priority status assigned to private healthcare customers. This status comes with a range of perks, including shorter waiting time to see a physician (especially specialists) and the option of being consulted by a doctor who speaks your native language. The main advantage, however, is that with a private health insurance you have access to all doctors across the entire of Germany, public and private alike. In other words, your chances of finding the best possible care are a lot higher with a private plan.
Better treatment and materials
If you have a comprehensive private plan, you will be thoroughly examined by way of a full battery of tests whenever you need it. This kind of service simply isn’t offered in the public healthcare system.
If you have or develop a chronic illness or some other serious medical condition that requires regular check-ups and tests, private health care plans generally give you many more treatment options than are available through public health insurance. If you have a stenosis, for example, and need to get a stent (the metal stick that keeps your coronary vessels open to prevent heart attack), a private healthcare plan will ensure that you get a stent of higher quality than the ones available with public health insurance. This is because all medical services provided by the public health insurance are required by Germany’s social insurance code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB) to be as cost-effective as possible, whereas private providers do not have this restriction. Instead, they are obliged to meet the terms of the contract and this often means a higher standard of medicines and materials. Since higher quality stents last up to 15 years longer than lower quality stents, in this case, a private healthcare plan may well help to extend your life expectancy.
Another benefit of private health insurance is that, unlike public insurance, it covers preventative health checkups for illnesses such as colon cancer. Most public health insurances only cover this particular illness for men aged over 50 and women aged over 55. Similarly, with a private healthcare insurance, you’re covered for breast cancer prevention care via ultrasonic scanning. Finally, travel vaccinations, which are not necessarily covered by public insurance, are often covered by a private insurance. This said, keep in mind that not all private health insurance companies have good coverage (some don’t even offer checkups at all) – and that there are black sheep out there!
Better coverage for dental and eye health costs
Eye health and dental health are only partially covered at all by Germany’s public healthcare system. In the private system, however, most insurance companies, including ottonova, offer compensation for both of these potentially costly areas. Coverage generally includes both glasses and contact lenses, which the public system offers no compensation for.
In terms of dental care, many private insurance companies offer annual dental cleanings as well as coverage for, among other things, gum treatments and cavity and root canal treatment. This is in stark contrast to a public insurance, which only covers the bare minimum of dental treatments. While those publicly insured can complement their insurance with so-called “top-up insurances” to cover dental health costs, opting for a private insurance can often be a cheaper route.
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ottonova.
This content was paid for by an advertiser and produced by The Local's Creative Studio.