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Navigating The World of Healthcare in Germany for Expats

Living abroad is an exciting adventure, but understanding the healthcare system in a new country can be daunting. In Germany, where healthcare is high quality and well-organised, expats can access quality services. Understanding the system and securing adequate insurance coverage is essential. But as always, we’re here to help! We’ve created a quick guide to German health insurance for you, along with some lifestyle tips, to help make the transition to the world of German healthcare easier!



Which insurance is right for you?

In Germany, health insurance is mandatory for all residents, including expats. Around 90% of the population is covered by statutory health insurance (known as Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung - GKV), while the remaining 10% have private health insurance (known as Private Krankenversicherung - PKV). Expats can also opt for additional insurance coverage, such as dental and vision insurance, to ensure more comprehensive healthcare protection for themselves and their children.


Health insurance in Germany typically covers the majority of medical expenses, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription medications. However, expats should be aware of deductibles, co-payments, and additional expenses associated with their insurance plans. Make sure to read all the details of your plan to ensure that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered to avoid any surprises in the future.



Healthcare in Germany for Expats


Expats with an income below a certain threshold are usually required to enrol in statutory health insurance, which provides comprehensive coverage for medical treatments, prescription medications, hospital stays, and preventive healthcare services. Contributions are based on income and are paid by both the employer and the employee.


Expats with a gross income above this threshold, or those who are self-employed, have the option to opt for private health insurance. This offers a higher level of flexibility and additional benefits, such as access to private hospitals and specialists. Certain tariffs also offer premium rebates - meaning private health insurance can actually work out to be cheaper for you if you don't need to make a claim!


Registering with a local doctor (Hausarzt) is the first step in accessing healthcare services in Germany. The Hausarzt serves as the primary point of contact for any medical care or problems, and they can refer patients on to specialists where required.



Cover for your children

German statutory health insurance for children covers a wide range of healthcare services, including paediatrician visits, vaccinations, preventive screenings, and treatments for common childhood illnesses. Children in Germany have exceptionally high vaccination rates at around 97%, making it one of the highest in Europe. Ensuring that your children are up to date with their routine vaccinations helps lower the risk to them, and the children around them, of many preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and diphtheria.



Healthcare in Germany for Expats


Tips for a healthy lifestyle to make the most of your new life

While having a good healthcare plan is mandatory and essential, it’s also good practice to take care of your health to help avoid preventable diseases and illnesses. Taking proactive steps towards a healthy lifestyle is important, especially when navigating a new life abroad.


A balanced diet, exercise, drinking in moderation and avoiding smoking are all part of a healthy and balanced life, lowering your chances of a wide range of preventable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes. It’s also important to stay on top of check-ups and regular health screening. You should check with your local health services what screening is advisable for your sex and age. Plus it's important to note that the more you look after your health and stay in shape, the cheaper health related insurances will be for you.


It's also equally important to keep a check on your mental health, especially when adapting to a new life in a new country. This can be a stressful time for many, so ensure you check in with loved ones regularly. Keeping a routine, meditation, exercise, mindfulness, and taking time in the outdoors can all be ways to help keep stress at bay, allowing you to enjoy your new life to the fullest. If you feel like the stress is taking a toll on your mental wellbeing, reach out to a loved one or a healthcare professional.


On top of diseases and illness, it’s also good practice to ensure you are taking steps to avoid accidents. While Germany has a very low rate of road traffic accidents, they are still a leading cause of death worldwide, and it’s important to ensure you wear your seatbelt and adhere to the German traffic rules at all times. Stay mindful of your settings and surroundings and be aware of potential safety hazards – especially when doing DIY in that new dream house of yours!



Conclusion

Navigating the healthcare system as an expat family in Germany requires careful planning and consideration, but once you understand how it works, it isn’t as daunting as it first seems. By understanding the different health insurance options available, prioritising preventive care for yourself and your children, and familiarising yourself with local healthcare resources, expat families can ensure access to quality healthcare services and peace of mind while living in Germany.


Reach out to us now for personalised financial advice.




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