Understanding Private Health Insurance in Germany

When it comes to health insurance Germany has two options: public and private. They differ substantially and need to be properly understood.

Unlike public insurance, which is compulsory for anyone working in Germany, the private option can be accessed only by people who earn a monthly income higher than a set threshold and who have certain occupations. It provides coverage based on your health and age, and the plans can include different levels of cover and insurance against particular events.

Basically, private insurance can be tailored to your specific lifestyle, providing you with the exact level of cover need. This way, you will neither find yourself underinsured nor have to pay higher premiums than necessary. What’s more, there are online calculators that can assess the monthly premiums you may have to pay depending on your health, lifestyle and career. However, note that, to avoid errors and increased costs, you should do your best to enter complete and accurate data.

Who Can Get Private Insurance?

You can be eligible for private health insurance Germany if you are self-employed, a clerk (in some cases), or you are employed in a company. Employees generally have public insurance automatically, but, once they earn more than a certain threshold for over a year, they can opt for a private plan. As of writing this in 2016, this threshold is set at 4,688 Euros per month or 56,250 Euros/year.

This eligibility regulation takes into consideration your income before tax, including:

– Monthly earnings from salary and wages
– Bonuses and benefit
– Overtime income
– Regular singular payments (such as holiday payments)
– Extra earnings from a second job
– Extra capital accruing benefits
– Aspects to Keep in Mind for Specific Situations

Note that having an extended family can have quite an impact on your private insurance. If you have a large number of children, you may discover that you have to pay quite hefty monthly premiums, while two-income households and single individuals can take advantage of certain benefits. Also, if you are a student, you can give up public coverage and opt for a student health insurance policy that is considerably less expensive.

There are also separate considerations for self-employed individuals. If you are self-employed, public insurance can be quite costly, while private plans are more inexpensive and beneficial overall. This is because, in your case, your private insurance premiums will not be set based on your income, since your earnings will usually return into your business itself.

As a clerk, you also have special options you can benefit from – your employer can pay contributions for potential treatments needed and for health insurance, which will considerably reduce your costs. Also, you can choose your coverage based on your particular circumstances and the costs involved.

Finally, journalists and artists are also a more particular case, as they benefit from special rights, but they still have to earn higher than the income threshold already discussed above to be eligible for private insurance.

Choosing Private Health Insurance

Usually, a private plan is a wise choice, as it brings a number of benefits:

– Special advantages for individuals with particular employment situations, high income earners, and students
– The ability to choose your own hospital and doctor
– Insurance costs unrelated to your income
– Travel insurance options
– Flexible benefits

There are three private insurance options:

– The basic one is similar to the public plan, with limited coverage but low costs;
– The standard plan offers the best price/benefit ratio
– The comfort plan has no limits and no self-payments, but the costs are considerable.

Another aspect to be considered when choosing private health insurance is that it can become expensive for the elderly, since the costs are proportional with the individual’s risk of illness. However, there is a system called “Beitragsentlastungstarife” that can help with this and keep the costs at a reasonable level.

Finally, be careful with the first-time user scales – these are low-cost plans for young individuals that provide too little coverage to be of any real help.

All in all, deciding on private health insurance is a rather complicated matter that requires thorough study. Not everyone is eligible for it, it can get expensive in certain circumstances, and it may not be the best choice in every case. Do your research, use an online calculator to get an estimate of the costs involved in your case, and carefully analyse your options before deciding.