Public health insurance coverage
The public health insurance system – also known as statutory health insurance or gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV) in German – offers a basic, universal standard of healthcare to everyone resident in Germany.
If you are employed and your salary is under the annual pay threshold (Jahresarbeitsentgeltgrenze) of €64,350 per year (2021), you will automatically be registered for public health insurance. The higher your salary, the higher your premiums – but your coverage will remain unchanged.
There are downsides to the public system. For one, the scope of coverage is basically fixed. Although some public insurance providers (of which there were 109 in 2019) offer slightly different coverage, the treatments covered generally follow the minimum requirements of the German Social Code. Lawmakers can also amend this at any time, so your level of cover is not guaranteed to last forever.
The public system also covers fewer treatments, especially when it comes to dental care.
Private health insurance coverage
Private health insurance providers – of which there were 45 in 2019 – have far greater scope to tailor their coverage and offer premium treatments and services.
If you are in good health and have no family history of serious illness, or if you are simply looking for a more affordable option, you can choose a more basic level of coverage.
On the other hand, you can also choose a full-coverage policy to cover all eventualities. Such policies are naturally pricier but offer peace of mind, leaving you safe in the knowledge you have done everything possible to safeguard your health.
Plus, private health insurance coverage is guaranteed by contractual agreement: Your provider can never curtail or change this coverage.
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