In contrast to most other countries around the world, a private health insurance in Germany is actually a substitute for public insurance. It is an either-or. Which is why the decision to leave the public health insurance and to join German private insurance is at least in theory a one-way-road and such an decision should not be taken lightly and without due dilligence.

German private health insurance offers a wide range of different services, depending on what level the tariff is that you sign up for. There are basic tariffs that offer coverage comparable to public insurance or even lower, and there are premium tariffs that grant you the best possible treatment available. Depending on your level of income and family situation, private insurance can be a very good option in terms of both cost and coverage. Privately insured people have access to doctors that don’t give treatment to patients with public insurance, they get appointments at specialists much faster, also they have access to examination methods that are not used for people with public insurance – all due to the fact that doctors are very limited in terms of what they can charge public insurances, which led to a kind of two-class-healthcare-system in Germany (public vs. private insurance).

Premiums for private health insurance are not based on your income, but they are calculated by the insurer on the basis of the benefits offered, how old you are when you apply and what your health status is. In contrast to public insurance, you have a contract with the insurance company once you have been accepted, which means you are guaranteed the benefits you signed up for and they cannot deteriorate like in in public insurance where it takes a simple act of legislation to cut them. However, premiums for private insurance can go up and will go up due to inflation, rising medical costs, etc. To avoid increasing premiums because of age, German private health insurance plans are calculated like a life insurance, which means they put a share of your premium back for old age (“Altersrückstellung”).

Who has access to full private insurance?
Employees who earn above a certain threshold (59.400 € gross in 2018) can opt to sign up for private health insurance instead of public insurance, employees whose income is lower than that are compulsory members of the statutory scheme.
Freelancers can only join the statutory scheme under certain circumstances (see chapter on public health insurance). If they don’t qualify for that, they have to go with private health insurance. Unfortunately German private insurance are not always too keen to accept self-employed into their ranks because they are considered to be too much of a credit-risk for the insurance in the first years when no proven credit-history and income-info (like a tax note) is available. In those cases we can actually offer a unique alternative together with the ASEIG (association of self-employed Expats in Germany) with a special group-tariff open to self-employed Expats in Germany.


Making an educated decision

If you are interested in signing up for private insurance, there are a number of points that you have to take into account: Terms and conditions are important as you sign a contract with an insurance company, price stability differs vastly among the various insurance companies, and not every company offers the same value for your money, not to mention the scope of different entry requirements. In order to be able to make an educated decision, contact us for advice.