The vast majority of Germany’s residents, which amounts to a population of nearly 70 million people, hold statutory health insurance policies. For annual gross salaries lower than €54,900 or monthly salaries below €4,575 for the year 2015, KGV membership is compulsory. The governmental scheme is administered by 120 Krankenkassen, give or take, and these all charge the basic rate of 14.6%, to which another average rate of 0.9% of the eligible gross salary is added for a maximum monthly income of €4,125. Earning above the threshold doesn’t incur any additional contributions. For those who pay in the €747 maximum per month, €350 are from the employer and €397 are their own contributions. The minimum membership period is usually 18 months, and a 2-month notice is acceptable after that time should you wish to switch provider, or if the provider increases the premium from then on.
The benefits include:
- inpatient treatment as ward patient at the nearest hospital, where care is provided by the doctor on call
- outpatient treatment provided by registered doctors (Kassenärzte)
- dental care
Bear in mind, though, that surgeons or private doctors, amenity or private rooms, homeopathic or alternative care, vision aids and products, and dental implants are not included in the scheme, nor are any medical treatments outside of Europe. The insurance policy will include all dependants residing at your address who are not currently working, as long as they register with the same Krankenkasse.
To join the statutory scheme for health insurance in Germany, simply register with any of the funds (Krankenkassen). These are non-profit associations in charge of administering the government health scheme. You can opt for the very large ones, such as DAK, BEK, TK and AOK, or emerging ones whose members don’t amount to millions but mere thousands, as is the case with what is called the BKK. They must all abide by government regulation; therefore, their benefit package can only differ to a certain degree. However, they are subject to new regulations. To make sure you find the right benefits package, look into optional and complimentary benefits, such as no-claims bonuses, health travel discounts and free check-ups.
It’s always a good idea to ask about English-speaking health care providers or interpreters, but bear in mind that the number of Kassen who offer bilingual services or English speaking staff is limited.
To join, your dependents will need to become members of the nursing care scheme (Pflegepflichtversicherung) also, as will you. Personal nursing costs are covered by these policies, such as feeding and bathing disabled members. A recent reform has caused the price of these premiums to rise. They now range from 2.35% to 2.6% of eligible gross salary, up to a maximum of €107 per month for members without children, of which the employer is responsible for only €48.47.
You can also opt for an additional insurance coverage by accepting a policy with any of the private health insurance companies available either within or outside Germany. This will ensure that you have access to private doctors, private hospital rooms, homeopathy treatments, additional dental care, etc., and that you’re reimbursed for your expenses.
Private travel insurance policies also include international emergency evacuation and transportation, and these need to be considered as these services would be extremely costly to statutory health insurance policy holders.
In some cases, government-regulated funds team up with private providers to offer extra insurance coverage at a discount. With much greater variety on offer on the private market for health insurance in Germany, these plans aren’t always the ideal alternative.