We were first thought of moving out of China in 2011, my wife and I knew we didn’t want to go back to Brazil. Our first son Caleb had just been born and we needed to consider when we would raise him (not knowing that Esther and Daniel one day would also come).
We know wherever we would go next needed to be closer to Brazil than China: it took us 3 days of traveling (flying time, layover, timezone difference included) between our family hometown and Shanghai, so we needed to cut the distance short.
We decided also that wherever we would go next needed to be home of a good education system to our kids and accessible health care for us (something we struggled with in China).
When the opportunity came to move to Germany, we knew that it had both good health care and education systems, but we didn’t realize how good they were: Germany’s healthcare system spends nearly half as much as the United States but still manages to cover 100% of its population through a mix of public and private insurance schemes.
How Healthcare in Germany works
Healthcare in Germany: Statutory Health Insurance
Once your income is below the annual income limit of €59,400 you are automatically insured on the statutory health insurance scheme. If your income is above this limit you can choose to be insured on statutory health insurance, however it often works out more expensive than opting for a private option.
Statutory health insurance in Germany provides a range of services and benefits including:
- Medical and dental treatment
- Hospital treatment
- Sick pay
Health insurance payments in Germany are deducted at source and contributions are split between you and your employer. These deductions will cover the majority of your medical expenses.
However, to cover increasing costs of the state insurance scheme, public patients over the age of 18, are required to contribute to the cost of some services for example:
- Prescription medicine: 10% of the pharmacy counter price minimum €5 and maximum €10
- Hospital treatment: €10 per day for a maximum of 28 days in a calendar year
- Outpatient rehabilitation treatment: €10 per day
- Most costs are capped at a maximum of €10 a day or 2% of the income per year, in the case of medicines
For more detail on the state health insurance, search ‘Social Security at a Glance’ for a comprehensive overview provided by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Healthcare in Germany: Private Insurance
If your salary is above €59,400 a year, you have the option to access private health insurance in Germany. In addition, civil servants or the self-employed in Germany can also choose private health insurance. About 11% of Germans opt for private health insurance.
The Benefits of Private Health Insurance in Germany
There are many benefits to being able to access private health insurance while working in Germany, including:
- For higher paid professionals, private health insurance can be less expensive than the state scheme as contributions to the state scheme are based on your gross income
- Access to private practice doctors
- May offer more comprehensive cover for procedures
- Access to semi-private and private rooms in hospitals