Health insurance in Germany

Charite _ HGruber via flickrIt’s the law that every person living in Germany must have health insurance, either public (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) or private (private Krankenversicherung) – though you’re only allowed to choose to be insured privately if your income is above a specific threshold.
The most important difference between the public German health care system and that of the US, for example, is that dental insurance is included with health insurance, and you must bring €10 when you visit a doctor. The €10 fee is only paid once per quarter (3-month time period), no matter how many doctors you visit. Just ask for a referral slip (Überweisungsschein) with your primary doctor whenever you need to see a specialist.

If you’re working full-time in Berlin, then you probably must have German health insurance. Your employer pays half and you are responsible for paying the other half – but don’t worry, that is taken directly out of your wages.

There is no fixed monthly fee for everyone; your contribution to the health insurance payment is about ten percent of your gross salary.

Differences between public and private German health insurance

The public health care system in Germany is one of the best in the world. Though some may complain of privately insured individuals receiving care faster or with higher priority than publicly insured individuals, there is really no large difference between the two forms of health insurance in Germany. Often, an employee doesn’t even choose which health insurance provider to sign up with.
The general rule as of June 2012 is that you can choose to be privately insured if you earn more than € 50,850 per year (gross). Freelancers, self-employed persons and government officials can choose to be privately insured if they earn less than that amount, but there is no guarantee that the private health insurance will accept you. Public health insurance companies, on the other hand, are obliged to accept everyone who qualifies and applies.
The only way you can keep the health insurance from your home country is if you have secondment rights (called “endsendet” in German). This is only the case if you are technically employed by the company in your home country (their headquarters are NOT in Germany) and if you are only working in Germany for a limited, short period of time. This is only possible if your seconding country is on the approved list, such as any EU country including Lichtenstein, Iceland and Norway; also Canada, USA, Israel, Japan and the People’s Republic of China.
If you are under public health insurance, then your children and spouse are included in the insurance for free. With private health insurance, this is not the case; they must all be individually insured. If you would like to switch insurance companies, then this takes place at the end of the next month after you’ve submitted written notice. If you would like to cancel your German health insurance, this is only possible if you prove that you are leaving the country (which includes all the proper documentation and signatures, such as a notice of quitting from your employer, de-registration from your address / flat in Berlin, etc.).

List of private German health insurance providers

There are a large number of private health insurance providers in Germany. Here are a few of the most popular: