Private Health Insurance (PKV)
Generally, private health plans cover a wider choice of medical and dental treatment and provide broad geographical coverage. By having private health insurance you are considered a private patient and can expect more service from the medical profession. The hospitals and doctors depend to a certain extent on private patients to supplement their incomes and therefore welcome them. A private patient can also request and will often get, doctors who speak their native language. The private medical insurance market is served by about 40 German insurance companies, and there are premium/benefit combinations available to suit most budgets. Per person cost of full medical insurance is based on the level of benefits chosen, as well as on entry age and any pre-existing medical conditions. A major portion of your medical insurance premiums has also been tax deductible from German income taxes since 2010.
The government insurance premium covers you and all your non-working dependents, whereas the private medical insurance premium is generally paid for each person covered. You can reduce the monthly cost of your private insurance by agreeing to a deductible (also known as an excess or franchise). German private health insurance companies are not allowed to cancel your policy if you submit claims and are also required to put 10% of your premiums aside as a provision towards keeping the cost stable when you retire.
If you are considering purchasing an expatriate health insurance as a substitute for the government scheme, this could be quite stressful because most of the foreign insurance companies are not registered with the “BaFin” to do business in Germany. Even those that are, find their health insurance plans do not meet the standards set in the new reforms. The crux is that the German government insists that there may be no set upper limits on reimbursement levels and there may be no annual out-of-pocket deductibles higher than 5,000 Euros. Other issues involve how the insurance premiums are calculated. The present situation is that none of the major international expatriate health insurers will provide a German language certificate recognized by all visa authorities in Germany. Whether or not this will change depends on the Germans fully recognizing European directives for cross-border selling of health insurance for non-Germans seeking a residence permit.
Be careful to avoid limited-term policies with no requirement for medical underwriting. These policies very rarely offer a permanent extension and do not cover pre-existing conditions. If you decide to stay longer than the limited contractual term (anywhere from one to five years) and the health insurance contract expires, it could be both difficult and much more expensive to get new health coverage at that point. In addition, even though you may have purchased such a plan from a German health insurance company upon arrival in Germany, it may not be recognized by the visa authorities and you will be forced to purchase a permanent health insurance plan in order to be permitted to stay.