What are the hallmarks of “good” health insurance in Germany?
What does it really mean to be “well insured” with regard to statutory health insurance in Germany? Company health insurance fund Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse outlines which aspects you should consider when deciding which health insurance in Germany is the best.
The cost of an insurance policy, the cover it provides, and its suitability for your individual situation may seem like the only important factors when choosing your healthcare provider. In fact, however, there are a number of other equally important aspects that determine which health insurance choice is the right one.
“Is my health insurance good enough?”
This is a thought that plenty of people have – often after the fact – but, on the whole, all of Germany’s health insurance providers offer excellent cover. The standardised quality, coverage and accessibility of statutory healthcare is the outcome of the principle of solidarity – also one of the European Union’s founding principles – that states that prosperity and hardship should be shared equally.
In the context of public healthcare, the solidarity principle ensures that people pay what they can afford on the basis of their income. Additionally, contributions are not paid during times of need, such as illness or pregnancy.
Under private health insurance, in contrast, contributions are not based on wealth but on the state of your health, and there is no possibility of contribution exemptions – which goes against the solidarity principle.
Yet, despite this commitment to uniform coverage, quality and accessibility, there are a number of factors that set health insurance companies apart from each other.
Cost is only one factor
When choosing between different insurers, one of the few variables that most people look at is the cost of coverage, which even among public providers can vary to a certain extent.
Since 2015, individual public health insurance companies in Germany have been permitted to supplement their basic fees by a percentage based on an average supplied by the Federal Ministry of Health. In 2017, this average was 1,1 percent.
If everything about your insurance policy seems right – except maybe a minor difference in price – switching providers just to save a few euros per year may result in only negligible savings. Price alone can neither determine nor clarify the question of the quality of insurance, as there are far more important aspects to consider.
Top health insurance providers offer customer support
It’s perfectly normal to become concerned about health insurance coverage only after we get sick or an accident occurs, upon hearing a troubling diagnosis, or when a baby is on the way. During times like these, we need to know if we can count on a timely response from our health insurance provider. We start to question whether there are gaps in our coverage, or if our health insurance provider is reliable.
Nowadays, you can find not just fees but customer ratings for each and every insurance company online, which makes comparing them easy. But there is one problem – there is little information about the care provided by an insurance company to its customers when a serious incident occurs.
When comparing the quality of one health insurance provider against another, this variable is perhaps the most important of all.
Selecting a health insurance provider that offers personal support – face-to-face meetings, bespoke advice or 24 / 7 help desks, for example – is crucial to ensuring that you feel you can rely on your provider. The ability to provide targeted, reliable and fast responses to personal situations is of the utmost importance and is what makes a good insurer great.
Customer satisfaction: a sign of quality
One final way to learn about the quality of a health insurance company is to consider its customer satisfaction levels and listen to personal recommendations. How the provider responds to customers’ needs in serious situations is vastly more important than how much they cost.
While colleagues, friends and family can be a source of reliable information with their own experiences, online research enables you to find countless objective assessments. With the click of a mouse, you can read a broad range of feedback and anecdotal evidence that can help you decide which health insurance providers offer the best levels of support and customer satisfaction.
Read through these comments from customers to quickly discover which companies might be suitable for you. Once you’ve put together a shortlist, make sure to contact each insurance provider individually and ask them any questions you might have. Carefully write down the answers. Only then should you make the final decision. After all, it’s more than a matter of money – it’s your health.
Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse is one of the largest statutory health insurance funds in Germany, providing expert advice, award-winning customer service and excellent coverage to more than one million insurants across the country.