Is it better for me to get private health insurance in Germany? Or should I enroll in the public health scheme instead? This question is top of mind for most expats relocating to Germany. The internet is rife with misinformation so we thought we’d help make your decision easier by debunking the common myths surrounding German private health insurance.
In Part 1 of this post, we uncovered why the following assumptions about private health insurance are wrong:
Myth #1: Private health insurance in Germany is always better than statutory public health insurance
Myth #2: German private health insurance is cheaper and better for anyone whose annual income exceeds the statutory health insurance limit
Myth #3: Once you have private health insurance, you can never go back to the public scheme
Myth #4: Being insured means more paperwork
Myth #5: German private health insurance contributions increase much more than in the public scheme
Myth #6: If I become severely ill or injured, my contributions will increase
We listened to your questions and delved into further assumptions that are totally wrong.
MYTH #7: I have to pay my invoices in upfront when privately insured
There is a common misconception that those who have public health insurance can just waltz on into a medical practice, wave their insurance card and not pay a thing. Whilst those who have private health insurance have to pay in advance or on the spot. This is not true.
If you have German private health insurance, you will always receive an invoice for your medical bill. In most cases, your payment terms will be 30 days. This means that you will not have to pay on the spot. Every private health insurance provider also offers a mobile app designed for processing claims easily. Reimbursements are quickly and painlessly carried out. The exception is the purchase of prescription medications which you are required to pay at the counter. A different process also applies if you have extensive hospital costs that need to be covered. This is arranged directly through your hospital and your insurance provider.
MYTH #8: As you get older, your monthly private health insurance premiums will increase
As we’ve previously explained, the price of your monthly premiums is fixed to when you first sign your private health insurance contract.
Yes, your contributions will increase due to inflation and progress in medical innovation by 3 – 5 % on average in every year, but these factors are independent of you. That means your age or level of health will not impact your premiums. If you’re privately insured and under the age of 60, you will also pay a mandatory 10% surcharge of your health insurance premium in addition of the ageing provisions which are a part of your contributions in the private scheme anyway. This is part of an extra age reserves scheme since 2002 which dictates that you pay higher premiums when you are young, to offset the likelihood of your medical expenses being higher when you are older. This is why your contributions will not increase any more after you have turned 65. Your private health insurance provider has already accounted for this increase by charging you a surcharge since the time you first signed your contract.
MYTH #9: When applying for German private health insurance, you only have to reveal serious, pre-existing injuries or medical conditions
This is not the case. You will need to complete a questionnaire issued by your private health insurance provider before you sign your policy contract. Whilst it’s tempting to omit any minor medical concerns or issues you’ve had in the past that no longer impact your current health, it’s important to be honest in your application and reveal your entire medical history. If you don’t, this could come back to bite you later down the track. You will also have to undertake a medical assessment in order to be privately insured in most cases. Even something as simple as having an allergy can actually cause you a lot of unwanted costs when it comes to making a serious claim. It’s recommended that you thoroughly submit all details of your medical history for the time period specified to be safe. Usually this is the last 5 years. Alternatively, seek your medical records from your family doctor or GP.
MYTH #10: Everything that my doctor prescribes will be covered by my private health insurance
Your doctor maintains a duty of care to administer a treatment or prescribe medications needed to address your medical concerns properly. But this does not mean that you are automatically covered by your German private health insurance provider. This especially applies if you’ve opted for a cheap plan with very basic coverage. For example, treatments such as speech therapy or anything involving natural medicines may not be covered. There may also be circumstances that your private health insurance provider deems cosmetic rather than medical. Conditions related to hair loss or skin ailments fall within this category. Our best advice to ensure you are properly covered? Opt for a robust plan with detailed coverage. We also recommend seeking the advice of an expert (get in touch with us today!) to help ensure the plan you select is sufficient.
MYTH #11: Opting for private health insurance is disloyal or ‘Un-German’
This is a very old-world view that is inherently wrong. Some hold the belief that those who opt out of the public health scheme in favour of German private health insurance aren’t being loyal to the country and the social security system it offers. This notion is very unfair. And in fact, you’ll realise that without the private health insurance system, the German healthcare system wouldn’t be what it is today. German healthcare is widely regarded for its quality. But the reality is, the private health system subsidises a lot. This is because doctors get paid significantly higher by privately insured patients which greatly offsets the financial loss they encounter from treating someone publicly insured. The whole ecosystem of healthcare in Germany benefits from those who pump money into the private system. Without it, the public system would suffer.