Which free medical check-ups are you entitled to in Germany?
Everyone knows that health insurance is mandatory in Germany - but what you might not be aware of is how many medical check-ups that cover entitles you to. Mirja Link-Lundehn, a health insurance expert at KLforExpats, gives us the lowdown.
It’s no secret that Germany is held in high esteem for its fantastic healthcare system. One factor that contributes to its success is the broad range of free health services offered to its residents - including preventative medical check-ups.
This includes examinations for the early detection of life-threatening diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, that in many cases can be treatable when detected early.
Whilst everyone is entitled to these preventative measures, regardless of whether they hold statutory or private health insurance, those with high-quality, comprehensive private health insurance have access to an even broader selection of extensive check-ups.
Here’s an overview of the statutory preventative check-ups that everyone is entitled to, as well as the additional services offered to patients with private health insurance.
What does your state health insurance cover?
As part of the German state’s catalogue of preventative healthcare check-ups, all residents are entitled to receive the following (please note that in some cases age entitlements vary):
- Cervical cancer screening
- Breast and mammography screening
- Prostate, genitals and lymph node examinations
- Colon and rectal examinations
- Skin cancer screening
- Full health check-ups, including checks for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and a urine test
- Dental check-ups, including examinations for tooth, mouth and jaw diseases in children aged 6 to 18, and once every six months for women and men from the age of 18
Vaccinations for infants and required vaccination boosters are also part of the standard service catalogue. This includes:
- Hepatitis B
- Poliomyelitis (polio)
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (hib.)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Human papillomaviruses
For certain age and risk groups, vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia and a host of other infections are also available. In some instances, health insurance companies will also cover the cost of certain travel vaccinations.
Statutory health insurance also covers care during and after pregnancy, including a host of preventative check-ups. The service includes:
- Up to three ultrasounds
- Special monitoring of high risk pregnancies
- Ultrasound diagnostics
- Examinations for gestational diabetes
- Testing for HIV and blood tests for infections
- General examinations and advice for women who have recently given birth
Additional medical check-ups for privately-insured patients
In addition to all of the above services, those who are privately insured also have access to benefits such as:
- Unlimited ultrasounds during pregnancy (as many as the doctor deems medically necessary)
- More extensive cardiovascular and cancer checks
- Additional dental care including teeth cleaning
- Other preventive benefits such as Glaucoma early detection, hormone level examinations, and tests for digestive disorders
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects to the private scheme is that patients also enjoy much more flexibility. For example, private patients are entitled to all preventative benefits outlined in their insurance plan, regardless of age, and can also opt for alternative treatment methods - so long as these are within the scope of their policy tariff.
Those with statutory health insurance only have access to special additional treatments (also known as "IGeL" services) if they are willing to pay for them - something that can quickly become costly if ongoing treatment is required.
That being said, not all private health insurance plans are created equal, and it’s of the utmost importance that you read the fine print carefully. A low-quality private health plan might not include any additional benefits outside of the standard preventative check-ups already offered to everyone.
Make the most of your health insurance cover
Despite the array of free options available, over 40 percent of people in Germany still fail to take advantage of preventative medical checks. If you’d like to know more about preventative check-ups for you and your family, and which health insurance providers offer the best quality coverage, speak to a health insurance broker.
With 25 years of experience in the industry, KLforExpats can help! The team provides a completely free, English-speaking service with a personal touch.