Is private health insurance the right choice for your personal situation?

Is private health insurance the right choice for your personal situation?


Most people in Germany have statutory health insurance, because almost everyone can take it out. But many of those eligible to get private health insurance do so. Opting for private health insurance can be sensible, depending on your professional status and your personal situation. ottonova explains which factors should influence your choice. 

Germany has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and health insurance is mandatory for everyone living here. Public health insurance (GKV) offers basic health care, while private health insurance (PKV) offers more extensive coverage and benefits.

Should you get public or private health insurance in Germany?

Not everyone is free to choose between public and private insurance, but for those who do have the power to decide, which is right for you will depend on your personal situation. This article looks at some of the most important factors to consider for people who are:

Making the right choice can help you get the best out of the German healthcare system. Let’s take a look. 

Private versus public health insurance if you’re employed in Germany

Not all employees in Germany are free to choose between public and private health insurance. According to German regulations, your gross annual salary must exceed the income threshold (JAEG) of 66.600 euros per year before you are able to choose to take out private health insurance.

If you’re earning this kind of money, a switch to private health insurance can mean a savings potential of more than 200 euros per month - since your premium is calculated independently of your income and therefore likely to be lower than the maximum contribution premium that you would pay with public health insurance (currently up to 20 percent of your salary (up to 1.007 euros per month), including the additional contribution and long-term care insurance, which you share with your employer).

Private health insurance mostly works out cheaper for high-earning employees in Germany

It’s also worth mentioning that with private health insurance you get access to a more comprehensive range of treatments, medications and preventative screenings, like for example dental treatments including teeth cleaning and dental prostheses, treatments by alternative practitioners and chiropractors, subsidies for glasses and preventative medical check ups without age limits, as well as direct access to specialist doctors, private rooms in hospitals and worldwide coverage.

Public health insurance, on the other hand, is more restricted, covering basic treatments including hospital stays, screenings and health checks. These included benefits are also not guaranteed in perpetuity as they are set by governmental policy and are liable to change. With private insurance, benefits are guaranteed for the entire duration of the contract.

It’s often said that once you switch to private health insurance in Germany, it can be very difficult to go back, but this isn’t strictly true. If you haven’t yet reached the age of 55, there are various options for switching back to public health insurance, such as getting co-insured through your spouse or family. If you lose your job or your income falls below the threshold, you are also entitled to switch back to public health insurance. 

Private health insurance for self-employed workers

As a self-employed person in Germany, you are free to make your own decisions in many areas of your life. This extends to your health insurance, too. Self-employed workers and freelancers enjoy greater freedom than employees, since they’re allowed to choose between public and private health insurance. It is even more important in this situation to carefully consider your options because, if you fall ill and cannot work, your income could be severely affected. 

If you opt for public health insurance as a self-employed worker, in most cases you’ll be obliged to cover the full contribution on your own (since you are your own employer) - currently up to 20 percent of your annual income (including the additional contribution and mandatory long-term care insurance). However, this also means that you benefit from the safety net provided by the social security system, including sickness benefits if you fall ill and are unable to work.

If you're self-employed, private health insurance give you greater flexibility to create a tailor-made policy to suit your individual needs

For many self-employed workers, however, private health insurance might be a better fit and even work out cheaper, depending on your income. Not only will you get access to a better range of treatment options, but you can also add a sickness benefit to your insurance package to give you peace of mind. 

Private health insurance policies are generally also more flexible than public ones, with many different tariffs and components to choose from, allowing you to tailor-build a policy to meet your specific needs. You can also choose to build up ageing reserves, which is when you set aside provisions to ensure that your premium remains stable as you age, giving you more security in the future. 

Health insurance for people with a family in Germany

If you have a family, your top priority will be keeping your loved ones safe and healthy. 

Public health insurance in Germany allows you to co-insure your dependents (including your spouse and your children if they have no income) at no extra cost, meaning they benefit from the same healthcare options as you. 

Private health insurance, on the other hand, requires all of your family members to be named on the policy, but allows you and your family access to top-quality healthcare services - including dental and private hospital care - without having to worry about restrictions or limitations. 

Again, you also get greater flexibility, with the freedom to choose between different tariffs and to adjust certain components, including sickness allowances and deductibles, to match your needs. You can decide exactly what kind of cover your family requires and stay in control. 

The best way to determine whether private insurance is right for your family’s individual needs is to carry out a needs assessment

Why ottonova is a great choice for everyone

If you’re sold on the idea of choosing private health insurance, there are a number of good reasons to consider digital insurance provider ottonova. ottonova offers all of its services completely in English.

You can also make use of the ottonova app to reduce your workload. With the app, doing paperwork becomes a thing of the past, since you’ll have all of your documents neatly organised and accessible with a few taps. Get appointments with English-speaking doctors booked for you, reminders for upcoming check-ups and lightning-fast reimbursement of invoices (within 48 hours Monday to Friday for bills of up to 500 euros). 

If you decide that private health insurance is not the right choice for you, ottonova also offers supplementary dental insurance or hospitalisation insurance, helping you to fill gaps in your public insurance coverage. When taking out supplementary insurance you’ll also benefit from all digital services and English-speaking support.



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