Despite having the oldest state healthcare system, healthcare in Germany is actually quite advanced. Comparable with other top national systems like Sweden and the Netherlands, German healthcare is socialized so that no patient is left behind. Read on to learn more about how healthcare in Germany works and what it is going to cost you!
What is healthcare like in Germany? As you might expect, access to healthcare in Germany vs USA is a bit different, but in a good way. Healthcare companies in Germany tend to be more forgiving on conditions and fees than in America, and the average amount each family pays for healthcare in Germany is definitely lower than the American average (€700).
For many Americans, healthcare is one of their primary monthly expenses, behind housing. Healthcare in Germany may or may not be different, depending on your income level. But how is healthcare paid for in Germany? To give you a better understanding of this not-so-obvious topic, we dive into Germany’s public and private healthcare options.
Americans are less familiar with state healthcare systems than their European counterparts. This has many of us asking, “Is healthcare free in Germany?”
The answer: No. You pay, just not the insurance company! Instead, public health insurance in Germany is funded through taxes. However, it is likely that when considering the quality of healthcare in Germany, on a value-for-value basis most German residents come out way ahead.
In Germany, all residents earning less than €54,000 per year are required to take out state health insurance (Gesetlzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV). Payments are based on a percentage of your income split between employee (8.2%) and employer (7.3%).
For earners above the €54,000 mark, it is possible to opt out of state healthcare in Germany in favor of private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PKV).
Why would someone go this route? Well, there are broader treatment options and wider coverage, as well as premium choice of physicians.
What can you expect to pay? Between €300 – €600 per month, varying by coverage level.
Once you register with your local physician, visiting the doctor is easy in Germany. While many doctors require appointments, it is often possible to get an appointment the same day if you cannot drop-in. Many physicians are closed on Wednesdays and do not practice over the weekend.
In contrast to the US, pharmacies do not dispense medications with dosage instructions. Therefore, it is extremely important to get clear dosage recommendations from your doctor. Get it written down!
For public healthcare holders, medications are billed with a ‘pink slip‘ requiring a €5 co-pay. Private insurance holders are billed with a ‘blue slip‘, requiring full payment up-front to be reimbursed later by the insurance company.
Great news: For residents up to the age of 18, dental coverage is free! This only applies to dentists covered under state healthcare in Germany, so search for the terms Kassenartzt or Alle Kassen when researching a dental practice.
For others, it is crucial to check what is covered under your insurance policy before seeking treatment. You do not want to be surprised once you get out of the chair!
Planning a move to Germany? Then we can imagine that you will have plenty to arrange before packing up. Why not check out our full expat relocation guide for everything you need to know before moving to Das Land der Dichter und Denker? Or, check out the helpful articles linked below for further reading. Good luck!
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