Germany’s healthcare system is acclaimed the world over for the fact that it offers a national health insurance package that is comprehensive and universal. Nearly 85% of Germans contribute to the public health scheme, and the rest hold a private health insurance policy. This is due to a reform in the health system dating back from 2007 whereby all of Germany’s residents were required to have insurance, at least for hospital and outpatient treatment, including pregnancy and regular check-ups.
With an increasingly costly healthcare system due to inflation in medical costs and rising demographics, more recent reforms involving statutory health insurance in Germany or GKV (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) have been aimed at reducing the costs for health insurance Germany‘s providers can claim.
The ‘Health Funds’ or Gesundheitsfonds were introduced to collect and distribute the money paid into the GKV on January 1, 2009. Many health insurance providers (Krankenkassen) consequently filed for bankruptcy, and many more claimed they are given insufficient funds. The government’s response is to enable these providers to charge their members a premium to cover their expenses, or to allow the members to change provider.
As of January 1 2015, another law came into effect, as would have been expected, with measures that were drawn up to urge health funds to be more competitive. Their members saw their premiums reduced from 15.5% to 14.6%. However, as the health insurance funds are allowed to charge an extra premium, which reached a declared average of 0.9% in 2015, the total amounts to 15.5%, which is what was originally charged anyway. The employer’s share of this 15.5% is fixed at 7.3%, leaving the employee to pay the 7.2% remaining, plus an additional amount for earnings under €4,125.
Comparing Kassen premiums becomes imperative before joining the German health insurance system. Funding is bound to be subject to further reforms in the near future, meaning that premiums are likely to increase while benefits will dwindle.
But the GKV, the government-regulated statutory health insurance system is only one of three options available to Germans. They can also opt for the PKV, which is private health insurance offered by local or international companies, or a combination of these two. The self-employed and/or higher earners can opt for full private pension plans.
Finding adequate health coverage and insurance premiums is a worthwhile endeavour. For that to happen, people need to have a good grasp of how their health insurance in Germany will affect their finances and health prospects while living there. The type of health insurance Germany and many other European countries are trying to promote is a vital financial support at a time when an illness or accident can shatter a member’s outlook for the future. So the terms and conditions of a health insurance policy are extremely important, and deserve your utmost consideration when signing a contract with a provider.