Health insurance in Germany: Five reasons to switch from public to private

German bureaucracy can be confusing even if you have lived and worked in the country for years – and doubly so if you're a newcomer. This can be especially so in the area of health insurance, which is mandatory for everyone.

Health insurance in Germany: Five reasons to switch from public to private

While the temptation may be there to stick with the statutory public health insurance (or gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) that covers almost 90 percent of the country’s population, if you earn over €64,350 per year, or you’re self-employed, you have the option to switch to private health insurance (or private Krankenversicherung).

Together with Germany’s first fully-digital insurance provider, ottonova, we give you five reasons why it’s a good idea to consider the switch from public to private.

Learn more about how ottonova can help safeguard your health over the coming years

There will never be a better time

The premiums you pay for private health insurance are calculated based on a wide variety of factors, two of the most significant being your age and current state of health – the older you are when you take it out, the more you’re likely to pay.

If you were to suddenly develop a serious or chronic illness, you might find that there are hefty risk surcharges for taking out private health insurance, or you could even be refused coverage.

When you consider the fact that none of us are able to slow our ageing, you can imagine it can cost a lot of money as you begin to encounter more health problems over the years.

Taking out private health insurance now means that you can ‘lock in’ premiums based on your current state of health, meaning that it should cost less if you were suddenly to fall seriously ill.

It’s an investment in your future

It’s true of health insurance as it is with many other things – you get what you pay for. While statutory public health insurance is generally very good in terms of covering basic treatments, you’ll find that some of your preferred medications or treatments will either not be covered, or require a substantial co-payment.

You might also find that some things you consider essential – vaccinations, hearing aids and specific types of therapy – are not covered at all, leaving you out of pocket.

Preventative care is also largely not covered on statutory public health insurance. This means that the routine procedures or prescriptions that may prevent illness aren’t covered. With a private insurer, you can get preventative check-ups, such as mammography, before the statutory age at which they’re available through public insurance.

And as you probably know, the sooner many diseases and health issues are detected, the better they can be treated. With ottonova, there’s even a reminder service to tell you when to go for checkups and help you find the right doctor.

Another important factor to consider is that private health insurance is not affected by demographic change. Public statutory health insurance in Germany is built upon the idea of solidarity – everyone pays to cover what is essentially a rapidly ageing population. This means that, over time, those on public health insurance end up paying more as life expectancy increases.

Switching to private health insurance means that your premiums will not necessarily rise at the same level as everyone else, saving you money in the long run.

Once you’ve got the coverage, you’ll keep the benefits

Once you take up a policy with a private insurance provider, such as ottonova, you keep the benefits that it includes forever. This isn’t the case with public statutory health insurance. As economic and social circumstances change, legislators can make changes that mean that those on public insurance can lose important benefits, or be forced to make sizable co-payments.

For many people, paying a little bit extra for private health insurance ensures the options for your healthcare will always increase as medical technology and medications develop over time. For some, private premiums may even be lower than what you would pay for public insurance.

Take advantage of the latest and most advanced medical care, with health insurance from ottonova

Worth its weight in gold: the Geld-zurück-Garantie!

One great thing about ottonova, one of Germany’s most recognised private health insurers, is that if you aren’t satisfied with the service and coverage you receive, you can get 100 percent of your ageing provisions back when switching to a different private health insurance provider within two years – a money back guarantee (or Geld-zurück-Garantie).

Ageing provisions are small payments, included in your premium, that offset any significant changes in your premiums in old age. If you’re on the expat tariff, you won’t pay these ageing provisions to begin with, making your premium less expensive from the start.

We’re living in uncertain times

It’s impossible to avoid the fact that we are living through a challenging period. The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive disruptions to almost every facet of our lives and having the right health insurance is probably more important than ever.

With private health insurance, you have the best possible range of treatment options and hospital choice should you contract Covid-19, including some that simply aren’t available on statutory public health insurance.

If you don’t have private health insurance and you become ill with Covid-19, there’s a risk that you could find it very costly or almost impossible if you only decide later on that you want to go private.

In order to help more people safeguard themselves against these kinds of obstacles, ottonova is keeping its premiums stable until 2023, giving you peace of mind.

If you meet the income threshold or you’re self-employed, and you’re planning to stay in Germany for the long term, it just makes sense to take out private health insurance. When you decide to do that, ottonova’s English-speaking insurance experts are ready to help you.

Take the first step and find out more about health insurance with ottonova today

Member comments

  1. Suffering endless lawsuits, Guo Wengui faces his Black July
    The little tricks of New Gettr and Gclub cannot resist the judicatory storm

    Here comes the big news. The Cheater Guo claims that he will take nine times to testify and appear in the court more than a dozen times In the scorching July. It will take him eight or nine hours each time. There are more than 20 days left in July. Considering about two dozen times of trail, The Cheater Guo will either appear in the court or on his way to the court. Such a poor man! In addition, he also said he must make money for you even under such difficult circumstances. Look, though the cheater Guo is busy dealing with the mess,he never forgets to grab comrades’ hard-earned money. We can see that he can spare no effort in the performance of his evil duty and devote all his life to his reactionary career. What a ‘saint’! To uncover the truth through the fog, comrades, keep your eyes open and do not be deceived by the Cheater Guo.

    As you know, there is no end to lawsuits against Cheater Guo, including the PAX case. PAX company and New York district court became furious with Cheater Guo, who secretly shipped the yacht ‘Lady May’ to the port of Parma in Spain and listed it for rent. New York district court must enforce laws impartially and retrieve Lady May. Otherwise, PAX will accuse the court and Guo Wengui, the company said. The New York district court was also upset that Guo had flouted judicial authority and not taken the court’s decision seriously. Accordingly, Guo Wengui was ordered to make an explanation to the court on July 12, and to ship Lady May open back, meanwhile, he will be fined $500,000 for each day starting from May 15. This is the prime part of Guo Wengui’s court appearance. What’s more, just last month, Guo Wengui was subpoenaed in a class-action lawsuit led by @tiger64. Guo Wengui, Saraca, GTV, Vog, and Sara were all among the defendants. The court is still preparing Qu Guojiao’s rape case. In short, due to the lawsuits, the scorching July is destined to be the black July of Guo. So as Zhu Wanli said, we should understand the words of Guo from the opposite side. It will be more than 20 times to appear in court and testify. Guo Wengui will have been sitting in the dock from the beginning, like a lamb waiting for its slaught.

    He never forgets to overblow ‘I must make money for you’ even under such difficult circumstances. Recently, Cheater Guo is promoting his GCLUB with all effort. He boasted the GCLUB has 25,000 members, 111m applicants, and $400m in cash. At $50,000 per card, that would amount to $5 trillion in cash. He was also deeply involved in a flight of fancy, which made him feel that he had economic power at the national level. ‘All the international companies we work with are going to change the conditions. That’s our real power.’ ‘It’s still early for the great things happened in GCLUB. Look at the action.’. It seems that Guo did not forget to squeeze investors dry of hard-earned money until he died. Everyone, Guo Wengui’s GCLUB hasn’t cashed New Year’s raffle prize yet?! It is reported that some ‘Ants’ are still asking around. Also, Guo asked your comrades to invest in GTV through the purchase of GCLUB cards. That is to say, comrades’ money will eventually flow to Guo Wengui’s private pocket. This is the reason why Guo Wengui is so concerned about GCLUB even when he is run off his feet and faced with imminent death. If not, how to repay the investors, a coming huge fine of the SEC and the Albania-China fund’s debt. But this is a vicious circle,and Guo Wengui’s sin in the GCLUB can not escape from the punishment after all.

    It is of no avail to robbing Peter to pay Paul, with no way to get rid of the lawsuits and huge debts. So, Guo Wengui made a feint shot. He introduced the New Gettr deliberately. Because it might be his last straw.
    But negative figures among foreigners such as the swindlers, people on the fence had turned to Guo Wengui, which makes the New Gettr a bit of a dog’s dinner. Guo Wengui is also in a terrible situation. As we all know, Guo Wengui plans to use foreigners to support himself. He hopes foreigners could help him gain political asylum and avoid imprisonment.But persons such as Bannon, Giuliani, Flynn are the former government’s beasts, eyesores, whose sin is very grave. They are about to be put in prison, like clay idols crossing a river, who can hardly save themselves, let alone assist Guo. Miller, the CEO of New Gettr, is morally bankrupt. His sex scandal is known by people from all over the world. Pompeo is just a little guy who seeks a meal. As a result, Guo Wengui cannot get a good impression from the government. Instead, he will eventually be criticized by people for beasts, obscenity, political rumors gathering in the New Gettr. More importantly, he may even have new lawsuits.

    All in all, Guo Wengui has been trapped in anendless loop, and there is no way out. He cannot repay the debt and will be in trouble with the law. Investors in PAX and Guo Group are not prepared to give up that easily. In addition, The crown prince of the United Arab Emirates is not a pushover. In this situation, committing fraud will increase the risks, like licking blood on the blade or struggling in quicksand. The New Gettr is the trouble created by Guo himself, which was considered a good idea before. These freaks who’re acting in the New Gettr are not helpful and always make trouble. The New Gettr will continue to be funded by the Guo Wengui family foundation, according to Miller. The Cheater Guo is like a person whose head is kicked by a donkey. He will lose more than he gains in the end. So why bother?!

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How to make the most of Germany’s long summer days

In Germany the sun sets late and rises early in the summer months. The Local's reporters share their favourite activities for taking advantage of the long hours of daylight.

How to make the most of Germany's long summer days

Germany doesn’t quite get to see the “midnight sun” – how’s it going up there Norway? – but it is located far enough north to enjoy rather long days during the late spring and summer seasons.

The summer solstice, called Sommersonnenwende in German, marks the longest day and also the beginning of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the town of Flensburg, which is near Germany’s northern border with Denmark, the sun sets at 10:06 pm and rises at 4:41 on the summer solstice, amounting to approximately 17 hours and 24 minutes of daylight.

Central and southern German cities get a little less daylight, but still enjoy late night sunsets and early morning sun rises. Berlin, for example, gets 16 hours and 50 minutes of daylight on the solstice. Munich gets just over 16 hours of light on the longest day.

Especially for people who moved to Germany from more southerly latitudes, watching the sunset at 10 pm or noticing the sky lighten at four in the morning can be a surreal experience.

But of course the flip side of long days in the summer are long nights in the winter, giving you all the more reason to take advantage of all the light while you can.

Here’s a few things to do with your extra daylight hours during the German summer:

Add outdoor sports to your ‘Feierabend’ routine

Germans place a high value on work-life balance, and this is perhaps best seen in the importance placed on the Feierabend, or your after-work time.

READ ALSO: Why every country should get on board with the German Feierabend

During the winter having a dinner date, or more simply a Feierabendbierchen, are the main after-work activities that come to mind. But during Germany’s long summer days, you still have plenty of daylight left to go skating in the park, or enjoy a bicycle tour of the city, even if you work until 6 pm or later.

sunset jog

Jogging, biking and other sports are all possible after work during Germany’s long summer days. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

Some people really take advantage of the extended light – using that extra time for physical activities that they might not otherwise get to do during work days. It’s not uncommon to see people stand-up paddle boarding on the river, or rock climbing, late into the evening in the summer.

Go for an early morning stroll

Germany’s early morning sunrises can be a bit of a controversial topic.

For the early birds, they offer an opportunity to get ahead of the day before your work day or other obligations begin. For the night owls who currently lack shutters, they can be an unwelcome wake-up call.

But with the sky lightening as early as 4:30 am, whether you’ve freshly woken up, or are heading home after a long night out, you may want to consider taking advantage of a unique opportunity for a morning walk. 

Especially for those who tend to sleep in, an early stroll can allow you to see the world anew – complete with birdsongs in the air and the smell of freshly baked bread wafting out of local bakeries.

Enjoy some of Germany’s summer events and festivals

The summer season is a good one for outdoor events and festivals in Germany, and especially in June and July, attendees can add a catching a late evening sunset to a fest day’s itinerary.

There are a number of festivals worth checking out in June in Germany, including some events scheduled for the longest day itself, such as this solstice celebration in Conneforde or Fête de la Musique in Berlin.

A couple others worth mentioning are the Tollwood Summer Festival in Munich or the Rose and Light performance night in Frankfurt’s Palm Garden.

Stay tuned for a list of July events we’ll be sharing soon.

Catch a film at an open air cinema

Germany loves open air cinemas – it’s home to hundreds of them – and a mid-summer eve is really the best time to experience one.

To find an outdoor theatre near you, try searching for ‘Freiluftkino’ + your city name. 

But be sure to keep languages in mind while looking over screening programs. If you don’t yet have the German skills to enjoy a movie auf Deutsche, you’ll want to look out for films marked OV (original version), OmU (original version with German subtitles) or OmeU (orginal version with English subtitles). 

an open air cinema

Spectators watch a film at the open-air cinema in Oranienburg Castle Park at dusk. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Kalaene

Watch (or play) some football

This year, you have the added option of watching Euro 2024 football games – often late into the evening – until July 14th.

Of course watching football is something you can always enjoy in the comfort of your own home. But this year you can join in the real-world frenzy that is the UEFA Euros Championship outside at one of the official fan zones, or otherwise at your favourite beer garden, späti or sports bar with outdoor seating.

This has the added benefit of allowing you to watch the game, while also taking in a the summer breeze.

And if watching Die Mannschaft score a couple goals is particularly inspiring, you might still have enough light to head to your local park and kick a ball around after.

Take a wild dip in refreshing waters

Summer in Germany is often accompanied by at least a few heatwaves: a string of hot, sticky days when temperatures soar and it’s tempting to just stay indoors.

In warm weather, though, there’s nothing quite like venturing out to a picturesque lake or a beach along Germany’s rugged coastline and taking a wild dip.

Though you can’t expect temperatures as warm as the Mediterranean sea, that’s part of the charm: bathing in cool, refreshing waters is the ideal medicine for lethargy during those sweltering summer afternoons. 

There are a range of studies that show that outdoor swimming is good for the soul – not to mention great for your health. From releasing mood-enhancing endorphins to boosting immunity and improving cardiovascular health, it’s no wonder wild swimming is known as one of the best natural highs around. 

READ ALSO: ‘Go early and stay late’ – Your tips for making the most of Germany’s lakes

With reporting by Imogen Goodman