Private health insurance system (private Krankenversicherung - PKV)
Rather than opting for statutory health insurance, you are able to take out a private health insurance plan in certain circumstances. If you wish to take out private insurance and you are employed, you will need to let your employer know so that they don’t automatically register you with a statutory health insurance scheme. You can opt for private health insurance if any of the following apply to you:
- You earn more than 59.400 euros per year.
- You are a freelancer or run your own business.
- You are a civil servant.
- You are a foreign student (exceptions apply - see our page on student health insurance for more details).
German private health insurance companies
These companies all offer private health insurance policies for expats in Germany:
- Ottonova (in English)
- Versicherungskammer Bayern
- Central Krankenversicherung
- ERICON (Insurance Broker, in English)
International health insurance companies in Germany
The following companies all offer health insurance policies in Germany that are tailored to the needs of expats:
What treatment is covered by private health insurance?
Private health insurance offers comprehensive coverage, usually giving you access to all areas of the German healthcare system, including visits to the doctor and specialists, health checks, treatment in hospital, dentistry, and prescriptions and medicines. It is also possible to tailor your plan to meet your needs by choosing optional extras (see below).
Private health insurance premiums
The amount you pay for your private health insurance depends on several factors, including:
- Your occupation
- Your age
- Your pre-existing medical conditions (you may have to submit to a medical examination)
- The healthcare plan you choose
- Your voluntary excess (Selbstbeteiligung - see below)
The average premium is around 400-700 euros per month (significantly less for students). If you are employed, 50% of your contributions will be covered by your employer, up to a maximum of 351,66 euros per month plus 69,20 euros per month for long-term care insurance (in 2019). If you are self-employed, you will have to cover the entire premium yourself.
You also have the option to purchase additional extras, according to the level of care you wish to be covered by your insurance plan. This might include:
- Additional dental care, such as professional tooth cleaning
- Private hospital rooms
- Consultant doctors
- Sickness benefit
- Direct access to specialists, rather than having to go through a family doctor
- Alternative medicine
- Fixed-rate premiums that won’t go up as you get older
- Reduced voluntary excess
Voluntary excess (Selbstbeteiligung)
You can also control the amount of voluntary excess you are willing to pay (i.e. the portion of your medical costs you must pay before your insurance company steps in). Having a higher voluntary excess brings your monthly premium down.
Private health insurance comparison
There are around 40 private health insurance companies operating in Germany. You can compare their plans on the CLARK website (in German).
Although statutory health insurance schemes cover your family and kids at no extra cost, private health insurance is usually purchased on an individual basis. If you have a spouse or children you would like to cover as well, you should take this into consideration when deciding whether to opt for statutory or private health insurance.
Private health insurance for pensioners
If you are in receipt of a pension, but you do not qualify for statutory health insurance for pensioners, you can take out private health insurance for pensioners. If you have a statutory pension, you can apply to your pension fund for a contribution towards the costs of private health insurance.
Private health insurance card (Card für Privatversicherte)
Once you have registered with your private health insurance company, you will be sent a private health card (Card für Privatversicherte) in the post. You do not necessarily have to present this card to your doctor, hospital, dentist or pharmacy, but as it contains data about you and your health insurance cover, it will speed up appointments and insurance claims if you do have it with you. Depending on your insurer, you may have to pay upfront for your medical fees and prescriptions, and then apply for reimbursement later.
Changing your health insurance provider
Your private premiums are likely to go up over time. At some point, you may consider swapping to a different private health insurance provider that offers better rates.
If you want to change your health insurance provider, you need to give notice three months before the end of the year (i.e. by 30 September 2019 to change providers on 1 January 2020). An exception to this is if your health insurance premiums have gone up, in which case you can change providers within two months of being informed of the increase.
To cancel your policy and take out a new one, you need to write to your health insurance provider to inform them, before taking out a new policy.
Private health insurance tax deductions
To make tax savings, you can claim your private health insurance contributions as tax-deductible expenses in your annual income tax return.
If you are unable to work due to illness, your employer will usually cover your wages for up to six weeks. After that, sickness benefit is covered by your private health insurance provider. You can control the amount of sickness benefit you wish to receive per day, and how soon, after becoming unfit for work, you would like the payments to kick in.
If you are employed and covered by private health insurance, during your statutory maternity leave you are entitled to receive maternity benefit from the Federal Insurance Office.
Long-term care insurance
Since 1995, all private health insurance companies have been obligated to offer long-term care insurance as part of their package.