German health insurance can be confusing, especially for expats and newcomers who don’t speak the local language. But this should not stop you from getting the best possible coverage. ottonova brings you this quick and easy guide to the jungle that is German health insurance – so you can find your way around easily.
Anyone who lives and works in Germany needs health insurance – that’s simple. But what’s not so simple is navigating the system if you’re not sure how it works, or what’s on offer. Here’s the lowdown.
How does the German health insurance system work?
Germany operates a so-called dual-payer or two-tier health insurance system, in which the majority of healthcare is government-funded, but a secondary, privatized form of healthcare also exists.
Under the public system, younger policyholders pay for the treatment and care of the sick and the elderly, while the private system focuses on the individual but assumes solidarity between the healthy and the sick. Private policyholders’ premiums cover their own rising healthcare costs as they grow older.
How many types of health insurance are there in Germany?
There are two main kinds of health insurance in Germany: public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung).
public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung)
Almost without exception, everyone in Germany is eligible for public health insurance. As a public system, the premiums are based on income – so the more you earn (up to a certain limit), the more you pay.
private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung)
If you are a high earner, self-employed or a public official, you may be eligible for private health insurance. Your premiums are determined by the level of coverage you choose, the age at which you enter the private system, and