Long-Term Care Insurance in Germany: Requirements, Benefits & Applying Process for Long-Term Care

Long-term care insurance in Germany represents a crucial pillar of the country’s social security system, designed to address the needs of individuals who require significant assistance with daily living activities due to age, illness, or disability. This article delves into the intricacies of long-term care insurance in Germany, exploring how it operates, the benefits it offers, and the process individuals must undergo to qualify for and receive care.

Long-term care insurance in Germany

Everyone working and living in Germany pays long-term care insurance contributions to their health insurance provider, in addition to their health insurance premiums. Long-term care insurance helps to subsidize the cost of care in the event that you become care-dependent at some point in the future.

Long-term care includes different outpatient and inpatient services depending on the severity of a person’s condition, which is graded on a sliding scale from 1 to 5. Long-term care insurance differs from health insurance in one key respect, namely that services included in standard long-term care insurance are identical whether you have private or public health insurance.

You can also take out a top-up insurance policy for long-term care insurance to secure enhanced benefits in the event that you require long-term care.

Long-term nursing care

Whether you opt for public or private health insurance in Germany, your health insurance premiums will also include long-term nursing care insurance (Pflegepflichtversicherung in German) as standard. This is because, like health insurance, it is a mandatory form of insurance for everyone living and working in Germany.

This insurance covers a portion of the cost of domestic and residential care in the event that a person needs additional domestic assistance or care for a period of 6 months or more due to illness, injury or disability. If you want to have covered more you also have the possibility to make an additional care insurance (Pflegezusatzversicherung in German).

Long-term nursing care insurance contributions are calculated as a percentage of your income up to the premium assessment ceiling of €62,100. People with children can expect to contribute 3.05% of their income, while those without children pay a slightly higher rate of 3.3%.

It is important to note that contribution rates and the premium assessment ceiling are regularly reviewed and amended by the federal government. The last decade has seen a sharp increase in contribution rates and the assessment ceiling, with further increases expected in future to cover the cost of caring for an aging population.

Long Term Care Requirements in Germany

In Germany, the requirements for accessing long-term care benefits are carefully regulated to ensure that those in need receive appropriate support. The eligibility for these benefits hinges on a meticulous assessment process conducted by medical experts, who determine the level of care an individual requires based on their physical, mental, and emotional health.

To be eligible for long-term care insurance benefits, individuals must demonstrate a significant, ongoing need for personal assistance with daily activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, bathing, dressing, eating, and moving around. The assessment categorizes care needs into several levels, each corresponding to a greater intensity of care and support.

The process begins when an individual or their representative submits an application to their long-term care insurance provider. A trained evaluator then visits the applicant's home to assess their condition and daily living challenges. This evaluation is crucial as it directly influences the kind of aid the individual will receive, whether it's in-home care, part-time or full-time nursing services, or care in a specialized facility.

Moreover, to qualify for benefits, individuals must have been contributors to the public long-term care insurance scheme (part of the social security system) for at least two years prior to claiming benefits. This requirement underscores the insurance program's foundational principle: it is a collective support system financed by the contributions of all insured persons.

As the German population ages, these requirements are periodically reviewed and updated to ensure that the system remains sustainable and responsive to the evolving needs of society. This proactive approach helps maintain the balance between providing necessary care and managing the financial resources of the insurance fund.

Long-Term Care Benefits in Germany

Long-term care benefits in Germany are designed to provide comprehensive support to individuals who require assistance due to age, illness, or disability. These benefits are integral to the country's social security system, aiming to maintain the quality of life and independence of beneficiaries as much as possible.

The spectrum of benefits under the German long-term care insurance system (Pflegeversicherung) is broad, covering various types of assistance depending on the individual's needs. Primarily, these benefits include:

  1. Home Care Services: Many prefer to receive care in the comfort of their own homes. The benefits cater to this preference by providing financial assistance for professional caregivers or compensating family members who undertake the caregiving responsibilities. Home modifications and daily living aids are also covered to facilitate a safer and more adaptable living environment.
  2. Nursing Home Care: For individuals who require more intensive and constant care, benefits extend to cover full-time care in nursing homes. This includes accommodation, meals, medical supervision, and social activities, ensuring comprehensive care.
  3. Day and Night Care: These services are beneficial for those who need professional care during the day or night but wish to remain in their private residences. It serves as a flexible option, supplementing family care and providing relief to caregivers.
  4. Respite Care: Recognizing the physical and emotional strain on caregivers, the system provides temporary relief services. This allows regular caregivers to take breaks while ensuring that the care recipients continue to receive the necessary support during their absence.
  5. Additional Support Services: Beyond direct care services, the benefits also include counseling for care recipients and their families, training for informal caregivers, and access to support groups and other community resources.

The allocation of these benefits is determined based on a rigorous assessment process carried out by medical professionals. They evaluate the degree of care needed, which is then classified into several grades. The higher the grade, the greater the level of care and support provided.

Applying Process for Long-Term Care Benefits

Securing long-term care benefits in Germany involves a structured and detailed application process designed to ensure that benefits are fairly allocated based on individual needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for these benefits:

  1. Initial Application: The process begins with the individual, a family member, or a legal representative submitting an application for long-term care benefits. This application is made to the individual’s health insurance company, which also manages their long-term care insurance.
  2. Scheduling the Assessment: Upon receiving the application, the insurance company arranges for an assessment.
  3. Assessment Visit: A qualified assessor visits the applicant at home to evaluate their physical and mental condition, as well as their overall ability to perform daily tasks such as eating, bathing, and dressing. The assessor also considers the need for psychological support and the current family and home environment.
  4. Care Level Determination: Based on the assessment, the applicant will be classified into one of several care levels (Pflegegrade). These levels range from minor limitations in everyday competencies to severe impairments requiring around-the-clock care.
  5. Notification of Decision: The health insurance company reviews the assessor’s report and makes a decision regarding the eligibility and extent of the benefits. The applicant receives a written notice detailing the care level awarded and the specific benefits available under that level.
  6. Appeal Process: If the applicant disagrees with the assessment outcome, they have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal must be filed within one month of receiving the decision notice. During the appeal process, a re-assessment might be conducted to ensure that all factors were properly considered.
  7. Receiving Benefits: Once the application is approved, the applicant can start receiving the specified benefits, which may include home care services, financial allowances, or coverage for residential care, depending on the determined level of need.

Supplemental Long-Term Care Insurance

Supplemental long-term care insurance in Germany serves as an additional layer of financial security for individuals who wish to enhance the basic coverage provided by the statutory long-term care insurance system. This type of insurance is particularly significant considering the rising costs of care and the potential for basic benefits to fall short of covering all expenses associated with long-term care needs. Here's an overview of how supplemental long-term care insurance works and why it might be a beneficial addition for many individuals:

  1. Purpose and Benefits: The primary aim of supplemental long-term care insurance is to cover the gap between actual care costs and the benefits provided by the statutory insurance. This can include higher-quality care options, additional services not covered by statutory insurance, and financial support to family caregivers beyond the statutory provisions.
  2. Types of Policies: There are various forms of supplemental long-term care insurance available, including:
    • Daily Benefits Policies: These policies pay out a fixed daily amount to help cover the costs of care when a predefined level of dependency is reached.
    • Cost Reimbursement Policies: These reimburse actual costs incurred for care, up to a specified limit.
    • Care Savings Plans: A lump sum is paid when care is needed, which can be used at the beneficiary’s discretion.
  3. Eligibility and Premiums: Unlike statutory insurance, supplemental insurance is not mandatory, and eligibility for coverage is often subject to health screenings or medical questionnaires. Premiums vary based on the individual’s age, health status, and the extent of coverage chosen, and these premiums typically increase as the insured person ages.
  4. Choosing the Right Policy: When selecting a supplemental long-term care insurance policy, individuals should consider factors such as the flexibility of the benefits, compatibility with existing health insurance, and the insurer’s reputation for handling claims. It’s also wise to review how benefits are structured in terms of inflation and increasing care costs.
  5. Tax Benefits: Premiums paid towards supplemental long-term care insurance may be eligible for tax deductions, which can reduce the overall cost of obtaining this insurance.
  6. Considerations for Expatriates: For expatriates living in Germany, understanding the interplay between local insurance systems and any existing policies from their home country can be crucial. Supplemental long-term care insurance can offer a valuable safeguard to fill any coverage lapses resulting from international mobility.

ottonova for Expats

Saving on health insurance and still getting the best coverage isn’t possible? With signing in for ottonova you can make it happen!


We can help you write your cancellation letter for your current insurer and send it to you by email. You simply need to add your insurance number and signature and then send it to your insurer. We are unfortunately not allowed to contact your current insurer directly.

If you are eligible for private health insurance and you are in Germany on a visa or a limited permit, we can offer you the Expat Tariff up to five years.

ottonova is fully regulated by the BaFin and therefore fulfilling the requirements (§ 257 7Abs. 2a Satz 1 SGB V and the § 61 Abs. 5 SGB XI) for you to be able to apply for a visa with your ottonova insurance, which also includes our Expat tariff of course.

Related articles