A Guide to the German Healthcare System

It’s certainly not the most exciting part of moving to a new country, but healthcare genuinely needs to be on the list of priorities before you go. It’s an aspect which often gets overlooked in the chaos of finding somewhere to live, getting a job and the logistics of getting your family and belongings there, but it’s vital.

Should you become ill or injured you will need treatment, and those coming from the UK often forget that a lot of countries do not have free public healthcare. If you end up paying for treatment out of your own pocket, the bill can run into thousands of pounds.

The German System

UK residents can sometimes find it difficult adjusting to life in a country with obligatory health insurance, mostly as a result of the free healthcare offered by the NHS. Germany has its own compulsory health insurance system, and anyone thinking of staying for an extended period of time should be aware if this.

Germany currently has one of the best healthcare systems in the world; however the subject of health insurance is likely to become more prominent as the population continues to age.

It is fairly easy for employees of German businesses to obtain health insurance. Assuming they earn less than 4,190 a month they will be automatically covered with a statutory health insurer which is typically jointly funded by the employer and employee.

Should a member of staff become ill the employer will typically pay up to 6 weeks full pay, after which the insurance company will pay a set percentage of their salary for up to 78 weeks.

For the self-employed, it might be a good idea to consider private health insurance. The cost is variable depending on your circumstances but is typically only available to the self-employed, government officials and those earning about the salary threshold of 49,500.

Expat Insurance

The other option for UK nationals is taking out an expatriate insurance policy, which are generally much cheaper than the PMI offered in Germany. The important thing to remember when committing to a policy is to check the fine print to make sure you have the cover you need. There are many health insurance experts that can explain everything for you. There are usually certain exclusions from the policy, such as pre-existing conditions or any conditions without a known cure. When applying for your policy, you may be given the option of a moratorium or a full medical history plan.

A moratorium is easy to apply for, but more difficult to make a claim. A full medical history policy requires full disclosure of the medical background of anyone included, but it provides a detailed list of exclusions and is far more transparent than a moratorium. It may be a slightly more time consuming process, but it can be worthwhile in the event you need to make a claim.

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