5 private health insurance hacks (to save money and maximise coverage)
If you’re one of the millions of people in Germany who have private health insurance, are you making the most of it? Mirja Lundehn, an independent health insurance advisor from KLforExpats, uses her industry insights to share some tips and tricks for maximising your health insurance coverage.
When you first arrived in Germany, you were likely confronted with having to make important and often quick decisions about your health insurance. But beyond assessing the pros and cons of being publicly or privately insured, there’s more that can be done to maximise your coverage without breaking the bank.
Now that you have time to step back and take stock, there are some easy tweaks you can make to your coverage. In this article, I will shed some light on these tweaks, sharing some industry tips and tricks you can take advantage of to get the most out of your health insurance. Let’s dive in!
1. Add travel insurance to your plan for as little as 1 euro per month
Most comprehensive private health insurance plans also offer you coverage abroad, so many people don’t bother adding travel insurance to their policy. But, if you’re someone who doesn’t tend to see the doctor that much, you’ll likely want to preserve your no-claims bonus each year.
Adding travel insurance to your coverage for as little as 1 euro per month will mean that you won’t hurt your no claims bonus on your regular health insurance, if you claim on your travel insurance for an injury or illness incurred while travelling abroad. Paying 12 euros per year to add an extra safeguard to your no-claims bonus - which can be as much as 3.600 euros per year - makes total sense to me!
2. Pay lower premiums when you retire
Health insurance can be expensive and many worry whether they’ll be able to manage their contributions when they retire. So wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pay a small monthly contribution that reduces your private health insurance premiums after retirement? It sure would!
For just a small contribution increase of around 80 euros per month while you’re working, you can lower your monthly retirement premiums by as much as 300 euros per month. This is made even more affordable when you factor in employer subsidies and tax breaks, which can result in an out-of-pocket cost of only 30 euros per month.
If you’re planning to retire in Germany, this is a total no-brainer! Why not pay 360 euros a year now while you’re still in total control of your earnings, to save 3.600 euros per year during retirement to complement your pension? Better yet, you can also opt to start enjoying the reduced premiums sooner than retirement age.
3. Utilise special rates for limited residence expats
Did you know that if you’re an expat that doesn’t plan on staying in Germany for longer than five years, you’re generally entitled to a special rate and can pay as little as 250 euros a month for comprehensive private health insurance?
The catch is that often these plans aren’t advertised online or listed on comparison sites but can only be arranged by advisors who have special partnerships with health insurance providers. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible, it’s a good idea to contact an independent advisor to find out more.
4. Take advantage of subsidies and tax benefits to invest in useful add-ons
We know it’s tempting to choose low-cost insurance with limited benefits to save on monthly contributions, but when you look a little closer and break down the costs, it may actually not be the best idea financially. By taking advantage of how the system works, you could actually add some useful extensions to your health insurance at a very small additional cost - especially when you take into consideration that employers subsidise half your premiums and that health insurance is tax deductible.
The retirement contribution relief mentioned above is one such useful extension. Another add-on that’s worth considering is income protection insurance, also known as “daily sickness allowance”, which can be added to your existing policy for as little as 20 euros a month, when you factor in employee subsidies and tax benefits.
While standard health insurance covers your medical bills, the daily sickness allowance covers your daily expenses when your employer stops paying your salary after six weeks and allows you to keep up with the cost of living if you’re unable to work due to an illness or injury. It also ensures a continuous pension history for those retiring in Germany, avoiding the risk of you becoming ineligible for your pension due to gaps in contributions (in the event that you are unable to continue paying contributions voluntarily during longer periods of incapacity for work).
5. Get fast, accessible medical care digitally
The German healthcare system is known for its robustness, but it can also be bureaucratic, leading to long wait times and cumbersome processes. This can be particularly challenging for those who don't speak German well. Fortunately, tele-health (Telemedizin) offers a solution. Many people are unaware that public and comprehensive private health plans often include access to their own tele-health platforms with 24/7 video and messaging access to doctors. This is great for routine requests such as obtaining a sick note for work or a repeat prescription, so it’s well worth double-checking to see if it’s included in your health insurance plan!
We know that it can be tempting to opt for the first affordable plan you see, but taking the time to understand the full spectrum of health insurance options available to you and exploring how you can take advantage of Germany’s health and social security system can be a huge benefit - both financially and in terms of ensuring you have quality coverage!
Would you like to learn more about how you can make the most of your health insurance? Or perhaps you’d like a second opinion on your current health insurance plan to see if it can be optimised in some way. Get in touch with the friendly team at KLforExpats for advice! KLforExpats has helped over 500+ expats to date and offers bespoke, free health insurance advice in English.