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
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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


Acupuncture to rolfing: What your Swiss health insurance gets you (if you pay more)

If you pay for supplementary health insurance in Switzerland you can benefit from access to complementary therapies. We look at what's available and how the system works.

Acupuncture to rolfing: What your Swiss health insurance gets you (if you pay more)

Like numerous countries in Europe, health insurance in Switzerland is a compulsory coverage that all people must have.

Most Swiss insurance providers offer several options for their customers, which are separated into two categories: basic and supplementary.

Basic health insurance (KVG / LaMal) must be purchased, because it is compulsory. Supplementary insurance comes with extra benefits for healthcare but also of course an extra fee.

The franchise (or deductible) will need to be met, but thereafter, even basic insurance has you covered. It pays for medical care, prescriptions, and specialist care like eye doctors, sometimes even without  referrals from your primary care physician. Supplementary health coverage, however, gives you access to complementary therapies that can differ substantially from what basic coverage allows. 

CLICK HERE for more on health insurance in Switzerland

You have to fill out a form the insurance carrier provides and sometimes might have to undergo a health check and discuss preexisting conditions in order to see how much insurance coverage can be offered — if any at all. 

Unlike the KVG / LaMal, which must be provided to all residents regardless of their health status, insurers can deny supplementary coverage if they deem you too much of a risk.

This can happen if you have chronic illnesses or pre-existing health problems, in which case you could be either turned down or offered a policy with wavers for your specific conditions.

Each insurance company decides what coverage they will offer and what percentage they pay, depending on both your overall health at the time of enrolment, and which plan you choose. You’ll be able to read what’s included in your plan in the paperwork you receive from your health insurance and, as always, the fine print is important to read. 

People who only have basic KVG / LaMal insurance still have thorough coverage for many things, from standard doctor visits to in-patient care and hospital stays.

READ ALSO: What is not covered by compulsory basic health insurance in Switzerland?

What complementary treatments are available?

In Switzerland, homeopathy is included in all health insurance plans, as healthcare isn’t merely approached with classical treatments; instead, a holistic approach is applied to healthcare throughout the country. The complementary therapies available through the supplementary insurance give individuals the opportunity to play an important part in their own wellness. 

Having a supplementary insurance not only increases the financial coverage you’ll have for some of your standard medical needs, but it also brings expanded access to numerous forms of wellness therapies. The Swiss are very focused on health and wellness and it is clear through the various types of insurance available, that a primary focus is getting the population healthy and keeping it that way. This additional insurance creates a way for people to access treatments and care for their well-being which, in turn, creates a healthier population. 

Complementary therapies can include various styles of massage including, classic, manual lymph drainage, therapeutic, connective tissue, acupressure, and medical massage, among others.

There are additional treatments and therapies such as foot reflexology, osteopathy, and Rolfing (massage/treatment of connective tissues) that are included in the coverage, plus there is also access to traditional Chinese medicine including cupping (suction cups applied to your body), acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Some practitioners also offer consultations in naturopathic health, including detoxification (guided cleansing of your digestion and body), nutrition, and hydrotherapy (using the element of water as therapy).

READ ALSO: How people in Switzerland can save money on healthcare

Your insurance provider will be able to better detail what is covered for you.

Another thing to take into consideration is that some insurance plans will even reimburse a portion of the costs of other health-related things, such as a part of the annual cost of a gym membership. Some plans will refund about 800 Francs per year for a gym membership that costs about 1,400 Francs. Granted, you will pay more each month for some of these extra options, but having access to them– and utilising them– can make the pricier monthly cost worth it. 

How do you go about getting complementary therapy?

Once you’ve signed up for supplementary insurance, you’re able to view a list of complementary therapies on the website of your insurance provider. Getting connected with a masseuse, osteopath, or other care provider is as simple as calling them up and scheduling an appointment. Once you have the supplementary insurance, there is no need to go to your primary physician and get a referral. 

In Switzerland, the reimbursement process for these therapies is also a little different. While some practitioners will still have you pay direct and out of pocket for the treatment (with a reimbursement coming later, after you’ve submitted the receipt to your insurance company), others will send you a bill in the mail. This creates a unique way that you can receive the receipt from the treatment, file it with the insurance, and often times have the reimbursement from the insurance deposited directly into your bank account before you even pay for the initial treatment. This makes it so that people who also don’t have a lot of access to cash can still receive quality care.

READ ALSO: Which Swiss cantons see the biggest hikes in health insurance premiums?

Be aware though you can’t just go for as much cupping, acupuncture or “rolfing” as you’d like because most insurers will put a limit on how much treatment you can get in a certain period. Some insurers might not cover the full cost meaning the patient might have to pay 10 to 20 percent of the fee.

This focus on providing access to things that augment an individual’s overall wellness makes Swiss healthcare among some of the best in the world. If you can see beyond the price tag (and let’s admit, it is expensive: sometimes 400-500 Francs or more each month), there are myriad ways to source treatments and therapies that will benefit your overall health and well-being, making for a healthier and ultimately happier person. 

When you first move to Switzerland, you can either select an insurance on your own, or sit down with an insurance consultant who will not only go over what each insurance offers, but can help you find the best coverage for you, your family, and your situation. When you need to make a change with your health insurance, you can get in touch with the consultant and they will procure the papers needed to make the changes. Although there is a cost associated with this sort of service, it can make selecting and signing up for health insurance in Switzerland an easy and smooth process. 

To find out more and compare rates for health insurance in Switzerland, information can be found here: