German health insurance: what makes sense for you?

No matter what you are doing in Germany, you are required to have some form of health insurance – either public or private. Yet depending at what stage you are in life – employed, self-employed, raising a family or a student – you may have very specific needs from that health insurance.

German health insurance: what makes sense for you?
Photo: Getty Images

Together with digital insurance provider ottonova, we look at what you may require from your compulsory health insurance, depending on your situation – and whether private health insurance could be the right option for you. 

If you’re employed

It’s important that as an international worker, you have the coverage you need to meet your healthcare needs. Whether you’re working part- or full-time, private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung, or ‘PKV’) gives you important peace of mind to focus on your career, giving you one less thing to worry about while working abroad. 

Compared to public health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or ‘GKV’), you are able to access a wider and more-comprehensive range of medications and treatments. If you’re able to meet the income threshold to take out private insurance (€64,350 per year), you can also be sure that you are able to save money, especially when it comes to the premiums you would otherwise be paying in the public health system.

There are a few other things you should keep in mind regarding health insurance as an employee. If you get ill, your employer will pay your salary for six weeks. After that, if you have private health insurance, it will kick in with a daily sickness allowance – the level of which you can decide when taking out cover. 

If your salary drops below the income threshold, you will need to switch to public health insurance. If your situation changes again, you can then apply for an exemption that will allow you to continue with private health insurance. 

On the same topic, while it is generally fairly difficult to switch from private to public health insurance later in life, there are several ways that you can do it without too much of a cost burden, such as switching to a spouse’s or family plan. If you lose your job, you are also able to switch back to public health insurance. Many services also exist to help you navigate between the two systems, depending on your situation. 

Employees who have private health insurance can also access a range of preventative screenings and other treatments that could help you enjoy a healthy, fulfilling career. 

Book a non-binding consultation with one of ottonova’s English-speaking insurance experts today 

If you’re self-employed

If you’re self-employed, or run your own business, you’ll want to carefully consider your options, because if you can’t work, your income will be severely affected. Luckily you benefit from being able to choose between public and private health insurance, if you’re self-employed, or a business owner. 

Private health insurance may make sense as a self-employed person. If you get ill, you won’t only get access to better treatments and more comprehensive care, but you’ll also have access to a daily sickness allowance payed by your insurance – so you’ll be back making your own decisions as soon as possible.

Another possible advantage of private health insurance as a self-employed person is the fact that private policies are very flexible – there are many options that you can choose from, to ensure your specific needs are met. 

With private health insurance you are also able to make preparations for old age and retirement, with such measures as ageing reserves – additional, voluntary payments that can be used towards your later care, keeping your premiums stable in old age. 

Finally, if you’re travelling, you can also rest assured that depending on your tariff, you’ll be covered worldwide. 

If you have a family

If you have a family, nothing is more important than health. If you qualify for private healthcare in Germany, choosing which type of insurance to use is a big decision and you’ll want to carefully weigh up all your options.

Taking out private health insurance for families means that you have access to the best possible healthcare for your partner and children. Concierge services, as offered by a number of providers, means that much of the burden of organising appointments and paperwork can be removed, and you can be reminded of what’s coming up for your family in terms of procedures and treatments.

Private health insurance means that you are able to access top of the line treatments and medications, without restrictions, that clearly meet the needs of your family members.

If you have private health insurance, you also have total control of coverage, deductibles and sickness allowance. You can adjust these when you want, to reflect the changing needs of your family.

Furthermore, you’re likely to save money with private insurance if you have a family. If your family’s combined income is above the annual threshold, you will pay the maximum premium within public health system for procedures, treatments and preventive examinations.

Safeguard your family and yourself and arrange a no-obligation consultation with ottonova’s English-speaking experts

Photo: Getty Images

If you’re a student 

As a student, you’re just starting your journey and life, and you’re far more flexible in your needs than later in life. It’s a good thing, then, that as a student you have the option to choose either public or private insurance. Many employees don’t have this option, so it’s really worth weighing up your options if you have the chance – you can sign up to three months after enrolment at university. You also have another opportunity when your family insurance ends.

While not many students have private health insurance, joining early is an excellent decision. This is because your premiums are based on the age that you join. Premiums as a student also don’t include any ageing provisions, making them even cheaper. Best of all, student tariffs can be accessed until age 37.

If you’re not sure whether private health insurance is right for you at this time, you might also like to consider supplementary insurance, such as dental or hospitalization insurance, which can fill the gaps of your public insurance coverage and give you extra peace of mind, when you need it.

A smart choice, entirely in English 

When choosing private health insurance, there are a number of good reasons to consider ottonovaFirst, almost everything from your individual coverage, daily sickness allowance, doctors appointments and so on can be controlled from the ottonova app – it’s a totally digital service.

Second, all services and the app are entirely in English, reminding you of upcoming appointments and organising all your relevant medical documentation. Operating through an app allows lightning-fast reimbursement of medical bills up to €500 within 48 hours, on weekdays. 

Your English-speaking concierge helps you through all aspects of the German healthcare system, and assists you in accessing the best healthcare available, like finding English-speaking doctors, and securing appointments with specialists promptly.

Finally, you’re able to access supplementary insurance through ottonova that you can use to provide extra coverage for your public health insurance, in areas such as dental and hospitalization, and also benefit from all digital services.

Explore ottonova’s wide range of private health insurance solutions with one of their English-speaking experts and take control of your healthcare

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime