Avoid high dentist fees in Germany: Your options explained
The dental care covered by statutory health insurance in Germany is limited, leaving you at risk of paying out of pocket for costly dental treatments. The experts at digital insurance company Feather explain your two options for getting more comprehensive dental coverage.
Generally, the German health care system can be considered world-class. It runs smoothly and ensures that residents are well taken care of when it comes to their medical needs. However, it’s sometimes said that the weak point of statutory health care in Germany is the coverage provided for dental care, which isn’t exactly comprehensive.
As a result, a rising number of people are choosing to take measures to protect themselves from unaffordable dentist bills, either by opting for private health insurance, or topping up their public health insurance with supplemental dental insurance. Here’s what you need to know.
What dentistry is covered by public health insurance?
If you have, or plan to sign up for, statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung), your most basic dental care will be fully covered by your public health insurance, namely:
- Basic fillings
- Bi-annual check-ups
- Removal of wisdom teeth
- Treatment for gum disease
What dentistry is not (fully) covered by public health insurance?
If you have public health insurance you can expect to have to cover the costs of most other treatments either partially or entirely yourself. These include but are not limited to:
- Professional dental cleanings
- Necessary dental prophylaxis measures
- High quality fillings
- Root canal and periodontitis treatment
- Mouthguard / bite guard
- Local anesthesia
These types of treatments are expensive and the out of pocket costs can be quite high. It's a good idea to ask your dentist for a cost estimate (Heil- und Kostenplan), which can be shared with your insurance provider beforehand. This will give you an indication of your expected out of pocket costs before you move forward with the treatment.
Avoiding high dental costs: Your options
If you don’t want to pay for all of your dental treatments out of pocket, you have a few options when it comes to taking out insurance cover:
1. Top up your public health insurance with supplemental dental health insurance
Dental insurance was designed specifically as an add-on to your German statutory health insurance. When you compare the monthly premium to what you pay for treatments, dental insurance is very affordable, starting from as little as 9 euros per month.
Considering that root canals easily cost 700 euros and professional teeth cleanings cost around 100 - 120 euros, dental insurance is a great way to save you money and stress without compromising on your health. In fact, what you would usually pay out of pocket for just one professional cleaning would already cover your dental insurance premium for one year.
Dental insurance plans can also be tailored to offer different levels of coverage depending on your needs.
Basic dental insurance typically covers:
- Professional dental cleanings
- High quality composite fillings
- Root canal treatment
- Periodontal treatment
- Pain relief
Advanced dental insurance typically covers:
- Everything in the basic dental insurance plan
- Inlays / onlays
- Biannual teeth whitening budget
How does it work?
The process of purchasing a dental insurance add-on varies from one insurance provider to the next, but it is often possible to sign up online. Some insurance companies might cover the cost upfront, while others will require you to pay your dentist bills, submit an invoice, and then get your money reimbursed.
2. Private health insurance
If you are eligible for private health insurance in Germany (which in 2023 means you either earn more than 66.600 euros per year, are self-employed, are a foreign student, or are a civil servant), this is another option available to you.
Private health insurance normally includes comprehensive dental coverage, and so having additional dental coverage as an add-on is not necessary.
What is covered?
Depending on your private insurance plan, the dental benefits would typically include the same treatments as a supplemental dental insurance plan, namely composite fillings, dental procedures, dental cleanings (prophylaxis) and partial coverage for orthodontics, veneers, crowns, implants and bridges.
How does it work?
Similarly to supplemental dental health insurance, with private insurance you are responsible for paying your dental bills yourself, and then claiming the expenses back from the insurance provider.
While extensive dental coverage is a huge plus of signing up for private health insurance, this is an important decision and other factors such as your health, family setup and retirement plans should also be considered.
Get comprehensive dental coverage
No matter how vigilant you are with your brushing and flossing routine, tooth trouble can arise and even preventative measures come with costs attached. While public insurance in Germany will certainly cover basic dental needs, it is possible and affordable to safeguard yourself against high dental expenses by choosing insurance that gives you more comprehensive coverage.
For all your insurance needs from dental insurance to private insurance and beyond, you can sign up online and in English with Feather. If you want to discuss your options, you can book a free consultation with an expert at Feather who can provide you with their honest advice based on your personal circumstances.