Five unexpected things covered by private health insurance in Germany

All health insurances in Germany, both private and public, are required to provide a certain level of cover. This includes the things you’d expect like prescription drugs, hospital in-patient care and an employee sick note; however, plenty of additional treatments often require extra payment.

Five unexpected things covered by private health insurance in Germany
LED therapy. Photo: Nikodah/Despositphotos

With ottonova private health insurance for expats earning €62,250+ a year coverage is much more comprehensive. It can be a real safety net while you’re living abroad – plus, you can claim certain things which may seem unusual to expats in Germany. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect when you take out private health insurance with ottonova.

Natural healing methods

Conventional medicine isn’t always the answer; sometimes, alternative healing methods can be just what the doctor ordered. For instance, light therapy, which is among the natural healing methods covered by ottonova’s expat health insurance, has been found to be as effective as antidepressant medications for treating seasonal affective disorder. Other natural healing methods available for ottonova’s customers include heat treatments, speech therapy and massages (they really do have your back!). 


Photo: pressmaster/Depositphotos

Therapy can be pricey and, as a result, many people neglect their emotional wellbeing. When you’re covered by ottonova, you have no excuse to ignore your mental health. Depending on your tariff, you’ll be reimbursed up to 90 percent for each session of psychotherapy, a form of talk therapy which helps people to cope with emotional difficulties. There’s also no yearly session limit, in contrast to many other insurance providers.

Travel insurance

When you live overseas and are planning on taking a trip somewhere else, it’s important to check that you have the correct travel insurance. It’s reassuring to know that ottonova private health insurance covers you throughout Europe and for between 2-6 months outside of Europe, depending on your tariff. So all that’s left for you to worry about is what to pack in your suitcase.

Laser eye surgery

Vision correction surgery, also known as refractive and laser eye surgery, refers to any surgical procedure used to correct vision problems. Anyone who has struggled with their sight knows how life changing this surgery can be, but it’s also a big investment – unless it’s included in your private health insurance plan (which most often it isn’t). With ottonova, you can get between €250-€1,500 reimbursement per eye depending on your tariff and how long you’ve been insured.  

Photo: robertprzbysz/Depositphotos

Fertility treatments

Struggling to conceive is stressful enough without worrying about how to pay for fertility treatments. Infertility care is often not considered an essential benefit under many health insurance plans but with ottonova’s First Class and Business Class tariffs you can claim up to €3000 during the first three months of treatment, after which you can undergo unlimited treatment. 

As an added extra, all ottonova customers have access to the insurer's Concierge team. The English-speaking team can be reached via phone or the app to answer any health-related questions you have. They can even schedule doctor’s appointments for you, either in person or via video call which allows you to speak to a professional 365 days a year.

Click here to find out more about ottonova’s private health insurance for expats in Germany.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ottonova.

For members


What you should know about Germany’s plans to roll out e-prescriptions

Germany is taking a big step towards a more digital-friendly health system, with plans to roll out e-prescriptions nationwide. Here's what you should know.

A person holds the e-Rezept app in a pharmacy in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony.
A person holds the e-Rezept app in a pharmacy in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam

What’s happening?

From January 1st 2022, people in Germany will receive their prescriptions digitally (known in Germany as an ‘e-Rezept’) from healthcare providers.

Patients should be able to get their prescription from their doctor via a QR code sent to an app, which can then be transmitted to a pharmacy. The pharmacy can then let the patient know whether their medicine is in stock (or if they want to order it), and when it is ready for collection. 

This model is to be mandatory for people with statutory health insurance from the start of 2022, replacing the good old paper prescription.

However, the QR code can also be given to the patient by the doctor on a piece of paper if a patient does not have access to or doesn’t want to use a smartphone. 

READ ALSO: The changes around doctors notes in Germany you should know 

How exactly will it work?

In theory this is the plan – you’ll visit the doctor or have a video consultation. After the examination, the doctor will issue you with an electronic prescription for the medication that has been prescribed to you. 

A prescription code is automatically created for each ‘e-Rezept’, which you will need so you can get the medicine at the pharmacy. As we mentioned above, patients in Germany can either open this QR code in the free e-prescription app developed by Gematik and the Health Ministry, or receive it as a printout from the doctor. 

Next, you can take the prescription QR code (either in the app or as a printout) to your pharmacy of choice to get the medication needed.

One of the major differences and timesavers under the new system is that you can also select the pharmacy you want to get the prescription from digitally, order the medication (if needed) and you’ll be alerted when the prescription is ready. You can also arrange to have it delivered if needed. 

A doctor’s signature is not required, as e-prescriptions are digitally signed. 

The aim is that it will save on paperwork, time at the medical office and trips to the pharmacy. 

Some patients have already been receiving digital prescriptions. The ‘e-Rezept’ was tested out successfully in selected practices and pharmacies with a focus on the Berlin-Brandenburg region of Germany. The test phase started on July 1st this year.

Pharmacies and doctors’ offices nationwide have also been given the opportunity to test the new system from the start of December. 

“This will enable practice providers and pharmacy management systems to better prepare for the mandatory launch on January 2022 1st,” said, the official health portal site for German pharmacies

The new e-prescription app.
The new e-prescription app. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam

READ ALSO: 10 rules to know if you get sick in Germany

There is some leeway though – if there are technical difficulties, paper prescriptions can still be issued in individual cases until the end of June next year.

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians estimates that it could take until mid-2022 until all users are equipped with e-prescription applications nationwide.

The obligation does not apply to privately insured people from January next year. Private insurance companies can decide voluntarily to make the preparations for their customers to use the e-prescription.

What’s this about an app?

To be able to receive and redeem prescriptions electronically, people with statutory health insurance need the Gematik ‘das e-Rezept’ app. 

One issue is that the app appears to only be available at the moment in German app stores. We’ll try and find out if there are plans to change this and widen out the access, but it seems likely for that to happen. 

Germany’s Covid-Warn app, for example, was initially only open to German app stores but was gradually widened out to many others. 

As mentioned above though, those who don’t have access to an app will be able to use the paper with the code on it to access their prescriptions. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

Has it all gone smoothly?

As you might expect, there have been a few hiccups. 

Originally, the introduction nationwide was planned for October but was postponed due to many providers not having all the tech requirements set up. 

Now though, more than 90 percent of the practice management systems have been certified by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians – a prerequisite to issue the e-prescriptions.

The e-prescription is part of Germany’s far-reaching plans to digitise and streamline the health care system.

The head of Gematik GmbH, Markus Leyck Dieken, recently spoke of a “new era” that is “finally starting for doctors and patients” in Germany. 

Useful vocabulary:

Prescription – (das) Rezept

Doctor’s office/practice – (die) Arztpraxis

To order – bestellen 

Pharmacy – (die) Apotheke

Video consultation – (die) Videosprechstunde