Health Insurance
Alternative therapies
Health Insurance

If you become a permanent resident and study or take up employment, you are required to have health insurance. German law differentiates between the compulsorily insured (Kassenpatienten) and the voluntarily insured (Privatpatienten). If you are state-insured, the doctor will send the bill directly to your insurance company for reimbursement, while private patients receive the bill first before forwarding it to the insurance company for total or partial reimbursement. "Kassenpatienten" are restricted in their movement from doctor to doctor within a calendar quarter, requiring a referral for specialists and second opinions, while "Privatpatienten" have more freedom in this respect and generally receive preferential treatment in terms of waiting times etc.

Those insured on a compulsory basis pay a certain percentage of their gross salary, while the voluntarily insured pay a premium calculated on the basis of income, and health risk factors (such as age, sex and occupation). As a rule employer and employee share the cost of health insurance 50-50. As premiums tend to be in the order of 13-14% of gross wages, employees end up paying around 6-7% of their wages in health insurance.

Private insurance often offers significant savings for higher income earners and the self employed.

Of the major health insurers, only the Techniker Krankenkasse provides any significant amount of information in English.

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