Germany’s healthcare system is considered among the best in Europe. How can it not be? After all, the German state invests 11.1% of the country’s revenue in healthcare. The only countries in the region that spends a higher percentage of their national income on healthcare are Switzerland and France. So, it’s safe to say that Germany has an extensive medical care program that benefits everyone living in the country.
The healthcare system in Germany is quite comprehensive in terms of what it offers. From outpatient and inpatient services to mental health and prescription drug coverage, people living in Germany have a lot of healthcare amenities on medical insurance. Speaking of medical insurance, the universal healthcare system of Germany stands on two types of insurance.
- Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV
- Private Krankenversicherung or PKV
Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV
GKV, also referred to as statutory health insurance, is part of the federal healthcare system. Every person living in the country is bound by the law to take out SHI. However, if an individual earns more than €64,350/year, they can choose not to invest in statutory health insurance and go for private health insurance.
A person may want to get SHI and top it up with PHI to make their medical coverage much more extensive.
GKV works on the principle of solidarity, which means all residents who buy SHI will have access to the same medical care benefits regardless of their financial status.
When someone buys or intends to buy GKV, they have to look up Krankenkassens in their locality to sign up at. These are non-profit associations that manage funds within the statutory health insurance scheme and are overlooked by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Once you have a Krankenkasse you will visit its office to register yourself. After that, you will begin contributing the security premium at 14.6% of your gross salary (where 7.3% is contributed by the employer). These payments fund the Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung system.
You will make insurance payments based on your salary, but that doesn’t give high earners any special treatment. That is, 14.6% of one employee’s income will amount to a varying sum of money for different people; whoever earns significantly high will have to pay a bigger chunk of money for SHI and vice versa.
But despite the difference in premium payments, all GKV holders get the same healthcare benefits. There is no discrimination on the basis of people’s financial standing when it comes to accessing public health amenities.
On top of that, when a person takes the public health insurance route, they don’t get priority in treatment as they would if they got private health insurance. Germany is quite generous with its medical aid to the residents, but there is a proper channel that people must go through to get professional help.
In simple terms, you will have to wait your turn to get appointments and receive consultations. This means even if you suspect the issue you have is related to a particular part of your body, you will still have to go through the GP. They will then refer you to a specialist.
GKV Healthcare Card
People enrolled in the GKV insurance scheme get a social security number, which is used to manage their payments and look up their details in the system. They also get a healthcare card that they must use to avail medical care. In other words, whenever you need to get prescription meds or go to a doctor, you will have to take your health card with you.
In the case of GKV, the doctors’ fees or medical service charges are paid directly by the Krankenkassens, unlike the private healthcare insurance in which you get reimbursed later for the amount spent on healthcare.
Sick Pay Insurance
SHI also offers sick pay insurance, which pays an ill employee who cannot show up at work for up to six weeks. After that, the payment reduces up to 70% of the worker’s original salary.
• Private Krankenversicherung or PKV
As the title gives away, private Krankenversicherung or private health insurance, is managed by private insurance companies that offer different contracts to people based on the scheme.
Unlike public healthcare insurance, in which you know your coverage from the get-go, in private healthcare insurance, you can choose different policies depending on the type of medical coverage you want.
Let’s say you want to have advanced dental treatment covered by your insurance; then, you can look for a scheme that offers you what you need on top of all the other therapies. This way, you will get what you pay your insurer.
Choosing a private health insurance program is pretty easy. All you need to do is look up policies that will cater to your needs and sign up. Once you do that, you will begin to pay periodic premiums.
No Coverage for Non-Working Dependent Family Members
Private health insurance in Germany typically only covers the medical expenses of one person. But if you choose to get GKV, you can get healthcare coverage for your non-working dependent family members without any additional charge.
If you are in Germany, you must abide by the law of the land and take out insurance. And if you choose PHI, be sure to look for the best private health insurance. Germany has quite a few options for private insurers.
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