The healthcare system in Germany

In Germany, you can choose whether or not to join the state healthcare system. The alternative is to take out private insurance.                          
 

THE STATE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

Germany has created a statutory social scheme with five branches of insurance covering: pensions, sickness, dependency, accidents and unemployment.
Health insurance is managed independently by a board of directors. 
The German health insurance system is based on the principle of solidarity.
 
Membership of the statutory health insurance scheme is not mandatory. Indeed, in 2009, an employee whose income was less than €400 and more than €48,150 (€ 43,200 for those with private insurance) was not obliged to take out statutory health cover and could choose to join a private organisation. If you choose to do this, remember that returning to the statutory health scheme is only possible under very strict conditions.
 
A worker’s spouse and children may be covered by statutory health insurance on a family basis but the worker must meet very specific conditions (income, employment, etc.).
 
What cover does the German healthcare system provide?
 
When you contribute to the state health insurance scheme, you are entitled to free services such as:
- consultations with GPs and practitioners. An excess of €10 per quarter is applied from the first visit to a doctor.
Prescription medicines are covered. Patients are required to pay 10% of the retail price (minimum €5 and €10 maximum).
Optical care is covered only for minors and those whose sight is severely impaired.
- for hospital care delivered in an approved hospital or clinic, €10 per day is charged to the patient for a maximum of 28 days per calendar year (free for minors).
Any contributions paid into the German Social Security scheme by French expatriate employees will be taken into account under Community regulations when they return to France.
 
How much does health insurance cost?
 
Contributions vary depending on your income.
If you earn between €400 and €800, your contribution rate will start at 4% and will increase proportionally to your income. From €800, the contribution rate is 13.30%, shared equally between the employer and the employee. Contributions of 6.65% are deducted from your salary.
From 2010, the contributions will be set at federal level and health insurance funds will allocate a basic package to each insured person (with a personal adjustment depending on age, health profile and gender).
 
What you need to do to join the state health insurance scheme:
If you are employed, your employer should enrol you in the health insurance scheme of your choice. You must choose your practitioner for the whole quarter and cannot change during the quarter. 
Referrals to specialists are made by GPs.
 

THE PRIVATE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

 
The cover offered by private insurance providers is more comprehensive: optical and dental care and alternative medicine are covered at 100%. In addition, you have access to a network of hospitals and private clinics.
There is no excess to pay in addition to your premium.
Premiums vary depending on your age. There are discounts for students and families.
 
Date of publication May 3 2012