Cost of private health insurance in Germany spikes in the pandemic

Cost of private health insurance in Germany spikes in the pandemic
Archive photo shows a doctor with a patient in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA
German residents who rely on private rather than public health insurance have been hit with a steep rise in fees this year, new figures show.

Within a year private health insurance has become noticeably more expensive, research by the Federal Statistical Office shows.

In March of this year, payments for private health insurance were 5.3 percent higher than in March 2020.

Contributions also rose sharply at the turn of the year. In January 2021 they were 4.9 percent higher than in December 2020, reported the Federal Statistical Office.

The increase was well above the level of the previous turn of the year – from December 2019 to January 2020 there was a 2.6 percent rise, while a year earlier the increase was 1.7 percent.

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Why has it gone up so much?

The Federal Statistical Office cites growing health care costs, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the permanently low interest rate level – which is causing problems for private insurers – as reasons for the increase. 

According to researchers, this year’s spike represents a long-term trend. Since 2015, private health insurance contributions have risen by 24.7 percent, while general inflation in this period was only 9.1 percent.

Official figures show around 8.8 million people in Germany have private health insurance, which corresponds to 11.2 percent of the population.

Those who opt for private health insurance are mainly high-income earners, civil servants, international students and the self-employed.

But many foreigners in Germany who don’t earn a large amount have to go private because it can be difficult to get on to public health insurance if you aren’t born in Germany, and you are freelance or in some cases a foreign student.

Staff positions offer employees the chance to join a public health insurance provider. Employers then contribute to their employees’ health costs.

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


Private health insurance – (die) private Krankenversicherung (PKV)

Statutory health insurance – (die) gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV)

Contributions/fees – (die) Beiträge

Increases – (die) Steigerungen

Turn of the year – (der) Jahreswechsel 

Long-term trend – (der) langfristige Trend 

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