Expat healthcare in Germany: why prevention is better than cure

Staying healthy is not just about regular trips to the doctor. Healthcare today is all about prevention and diagnostics – and any modern health provider will include this as the centrepiece of its coverage.

Expat healthcare in Germany: why prevention is better than cure
Photo: Getty
ottonova, Germany's first digital insurance provider, understands this. With a strong commitment to providing the best care and sustaining customers’ health, ottonova has found new ways to support its clients and keep them healthy. 

The first step is communication. Anyone who has spent much time in Germany – particularly in larger cities – will know that getting in touch with your health insurance provider can be difficult, with ‘difficult’ becoming ‘impossible’ on weekends and public holidays. 

With ottonova’s concierge service, you can get in touch with health-related questions or to have them schedule an appointment for you – all in English – and anytime you want or need it.

Interested in digital health insurance with a concierge service in English? Find out more

Besides being there for you when you really need them, ottonova supports you in adopting a holistic attitude to staying healthy, including early diagnostics, treating preventable conditions and using their revolutionary app to manage your healthcare.

While public insurance in Germany covers some preventative measures, ottonova private health insurance for expats earning €62,550 or more per year is far more comprehensive, giving you a holistic and complete way of managing your health. 

Prevention 2.0: Much, much better than cure

Prevention isn't only about minimising your risks; it's also a way to better diagnose and treat illnesses. 

The World Health Organisation has been telling us for decades about the importance of pre-emptive screening for cancer – between 30 and 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented through modifying or avoiding key risk factors.

Statutory healthcare in Germany has age restrictions when screening for prostate, breast, skin and cervical cancers, sadly leaving some people unaware of the disease for far too long. 

ottonova avoids this by disregarding age restrictions and covering earlier diagnostics for cancer, giving you the best possible chance of finding cancer sooner and quickly getting effective treatment.

Interested in comprehensive digital health insurance? Find out more about ottonova

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Your personal healthcare consultant?

We all know the feeling. You've got a crucial deadline coming up – or better yet, a well-deserved vacation. You want to make sure you remain in peak condition – but don't have the time for a trip to the doctor or to chase down your healthcare provider to find out what might be covered. 

ottonova’s concierge service is a team of English-speaking healthcare consultants who are always available – via call or chat – to give you information on health support measures and advice on staying in tip-top shape. 

Learn more about the English-speaking concierge team and other innovative services at ottonova

Healthcare starts with providing the right information at the right time. With ottonova, your personal healthcare consultant is just a click away. 

Sick on a weekend or public holiday? Even in big cities, that can sometimes be a big problem in Germany. Unfortunately, illnesses don't take sick days. Fortunately, neither does ottonova. The ottonova team can set up a video call with a real doctor – 365 days a year. 

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Easing the pressure: advice and treatment for preventable conditions

Like the doctors they work with, ottonova’s concierge team are experts in understanding how to best treat preventable conditions. This means recognising risks early and taking the right steps to reduce them. 

Take high blood pressure, a condition which impacts one in three people in Germany. ottonova provides advice and covers the costs of treatment and equipment for people suffering from high blood pressure in order to take the pressure down.

Want to boost your health through the latest in prevention and diagnostics? Get in touch with ottonova now to find out what they can do for you.

Not content with being your personal healthcare consultant, ottonova is also your 'health diary' – reminding you about preventative care appointments, while also giving you useful tips on staying healthy. 

Struggling to navigate how to book an appointment in Germany? No problem – with ottonova's digital appointment booking function, snagging an appointment is as easy as it gets. 

Oh when you're smiling, oh when you're smiling…

And then there's dental…

In Germany you can expect to pay between 30 and 80 percent of the cost for dental work, with the obvious result being that you're less likely to visit the dentist for a check-up. 

From fillings to teeth cleaning, well-maintained teeth are much less likely to require costly repair work further down the line. Luckily, ottonova has got your back, covering preventative dental work twice per year – making sure the whole world smiles with you! 

Stress-test your stress

From sleeplessness to anxiety, ‘stress’ is a term that captures many modern afflictions. One thing, however, that pretty much every doctor agrees on is that stress is bad for your health.

These negative impacts are all about the way your body responds to stress. As has been well established by medical experts such as Mayo Clinic, when we’re stressed, our nervous system releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare the body for action.

While in the natural world this means we suddenly get the impetus and the strength to climb a tree to avoid a bear, in the modern world this has a genuinely destructive day-to-day impact on our health – particularly for our immune system.

As a result, we're more likely to lose sleep and get sick – which creates a negative spiral effect on your health. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The best way is to learn how to tackle stress before it tackles you. By signing up with ottonova's First Class Tariff, you can attend an anti-stress seminar as part of their preventative and curative health services program.

Not only do you learn about the factors which underline stress, but how to manage it with ‘anti-stress training’.

Find out more about how ottonova's digital health insurance is designed to make your life more convenient and keep you feeling your best through a modern, preventative approach.

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


For members


Why more than 20 million people in Germany face higher health insurance costs

Several German health insurance companies have raised their rates this year, pushing up the costs for customers.

Many people are facing higher health insurance contributions this year.
Many people are facing higher health insurance contributions this year. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jan Woitas

According to a study by the comparison portal Check24, around 21 million people with statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) have had to pay higher contributions since the beginning of the year after several organisations raised their additional contributions. 

A total of 19 of the 97 statutory health insurance providers in Germany have increased their additional contributions, the comparison portal found.

It means more than a quarter of the 73 million people with statutory health insurance in Germany have to pay higher additional contributions. 

According to Check24, the higher additional contributions can cost an insured person in the most expensive case an extra €261 per year.

Among those to have raised their additional contributions include AOK Baden-Württemberg and AOK Bayern, which have both increased the additional contributions from 1.10 percent to 1.30 percent. Check24 has published the full list of additional contributions here.

Customers affected receive a letter in the post letting them know when their contributions are increasing. Health insurance providers justify raising their rates by pointing out rising costs in the health and care system. The pandemic has also put significant strain on providers. 

READ ALSO: How to make the most of reward schemes on your German health insurance

A total of 67 health insurance providers are keeping their individual additional contribution the same. And as many as 11 health insurance funds lowered their contributions – although most of these already had comparatively high rates.

In 2021, Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), the largest statutory health insurance fund in Germany with around 8.2 million members, raised its additional contribution significantly.

The contribution went up to 1.2 percent from 0.7 percent. Average earners saw additional monthly costs of about €10 extra, while self-employed people had to pay up to €288 more per year. 

TK has not raised its rates this year. 

Can you switch health insurance?

If your health insurance company increases the additional contribution, those insured have a special right of termination until January 31st, 2022.

They can apply for the change up until this date, and they will then become a member of the new health insurance provider from April 1st after the statutory two month change-over period has expired.

Insured people also have the right to change their statutory health insurance fund every 12 months.

The cost of public health insurance in Germany is a fixed salary percentage of 14.6 percent, while the reduced contribution rate for employees without entitlement to sick pay is 14.0 per cent.

Beyond that, however, health insurance providers set an additional contribution.

The contribution assessment ceiling for statutory health insurance (GKV) – up to which contributions are levied – remains unchanged at €58,050 per year in 2022, as in the previous year.

Check24 said that switching providers can save employees up to €624 per year depending on their income.

Self-employed people pay both the employee and employer contribution and can therefore save up to €1,248 euros per year by switching, the analysis found. 

However in a representative YouGov survey only 11 percent of respondents in Germany said they had recently changed their insurance provider or would do so in the foreseeable future.

Most of the benefits provided by statutory health insurance organisations are identical.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The three new services covered by German health insurance

However, there are some differences in the voluntary benefits, including dental health (professional dental cleaning and discounted dentures), vaccinations (flu vaccinations for under 60s and travel vaccinations), various cancer screening examinations and osteopathic treatments.

“In addition to the financial relief, insured people can also secure higher subsidies for professional dental cleaning or other additional benefits by switching,” said Dr Daniel Güssow, Managing Director of statutory health insurers at Check24.


Additional contributions (die) Zusatzbeiträge

Right of termination – (das) Kündigungsrecht 

Benefits (die) Leistungen

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