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Health insurance for Germany

As an expat, knowing that you can access high-quality health care in your new home is essential. Find out what services are available in Germany.

Health care is a high priority in Germany, with 21.4% of the government’s expenditure going to health and other essential services. This makes them the 2nd biggest spender on health in Europe and 5th globally.

Hospitals

The country has just under 2000 hospitals: half are publicly run with the remainder divided between profit and not-for-profit private facilities. The outlook for the German health care system looks positive.

The number of doctors in the country increased by 62% from 1990 and 2017.

GPs

For those needing care, initial contact is usually made through a General Practitioner who will refer on to a specialist if necessary. Emergency services can be engaged by dialling 112 and treatment is provided regardless of proof of insurance, although the cost of it can be high if there is none in place.

Pharmacies

Pharmacies are easily recognised by a big red A or a green cross and will usually be English-speaking. They are numerous in towns and cities, and the larger metropolitan areas usually have at least one 24-hour pharmacy.

Most medicines can be bought with a prescription for a fixed amount (copayment). However, if you have private health care you’ll likely need to pay the full amount and submit a receipt to your insurer.

Health insurance

Purchasing health insurance from a registered provider has been compulsory by law, for all residents, for some time. There are three options: public (which is partly financed by your employer), private, or a combination of the two — depending on your employment status and your salary.

About 85% of residents are members of the public health scheme, which includes nursing care insurance. This covers aspects of general, everyday health care, a standard level of in-patient care, and some dental care. This also includes your family, including your non-working husband or wife along with your children for free. In effect, all who are employed are insured but for those on a higher salary opting out of the public scheme in favour of private insurance is an attractive option.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to seek private insurance.

The public scheme is not centrally funded but financed by a range of self-administered companies. Because policies are shaped by the employers and insurance users themselves, there is greater accountability.

The advantages of private insurance for those expats commanding a higher salary are clear. With better access to health professionals (and you are free to individually request an English-speaking clinician), you can also enjoy premium facilities such as a private room as an inpatient, complementary therapies, and premium dental care. You’re also covered for brand name drugs at the pharmacy rather than generic ones. It’s important to seek advice about the policy you choose to and to ensure it covers you for things such as chronic illness and old age.

Covering every eventuality

It is wise to ensure that your insurance covers you and your family for the duration of your stay and includes all activities that you will be engaged in such as motorcycle hire, water-skiing, or travel to rural areas. If you’re on any particular medication or have a specific condition that needs ongoing care, find out how you will continue these when you relocate and how this level of support will be funded.

Aetna recommends that all expats intending to live and work in Germany take out appropriate insurance before they travel.  Rather than grapple with the complications of a local system and requirements you may be uncertain of, call our expert advisers who can offer a solution that works in your new country.  Aetna’s specialists can help you organise your move to Germany, and can advise on the hospitals and other medical services you may wish to use.

Recommended vaccinations for Germany

While Germany is relatively free of dangerous illnesses and infectious diseases, there are some health concerns you should address before considering a move there.

The country has no mandatory immunisation programme, so for the safety of you and your family, you should all be up to date with routine vaccinations such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, polio and influenza. It’s also a good idea to have a tetanus vaccination before travelling to Germany.

One risk you may need to take into consideration is tick-borne encephalitis. For those camping or hiking in the grassy, forested areas of south Germany, vaccination is advisable. Otherwise, the risk is considered low to negligible.

Speak to your Aetna adviser about vaccinations before you move countries. You may decide that primary immunisations such as tetanus or flu vaccines should be done by your local GP, rather than wait until they're needed in in a foreign country.

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