German Healthcare: Beginners guide

German Healthcare: Beginners guide

As an American, I can say this is one aspect to living abroad and in Germany in particular that I am incredibly fond of; healthcare! Having lived previously in a state where the prices were too high for me to afford coverage, I can say it is a relief to have the security of always having insurance.

The German Healthcare System

The German healthcare system operate under a dual private/public system. It is funded by sanctioned contributions that ensure healthcare for everyone ( public) or when applicable you can take out a special private healthcare plan. However, in order to get Private Krankenversicherung you must review some strict conditions.

Public Healthcare

If you are contracted in Germany as an employee to a company and make under 61,000 euro annually you ar required to take the government (public) healthcare, or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherun (GKV). The public healthcare is run by a little over 100 Krankenkassen, these all take a basic rate of 14.6% of your gross monthly salary. Although, if you are an employed worker earning under 850 euros a month then you are exempt from this taxation.

This public insurance covers you for primary care with doctors registered to your plan, both in and out-patient hospital care and even basic dental care. In addition, dependents living at your same address ( and registered) will receive coverage at no additional cost. GKV however will not cover private doctors, private hospital stays nor vision (for adults) or alternative treatments.

In order to register for public health insurance  one must be registered at the local town hall and have received an Sozialversicherungsnummer and have proof of employment you are then entitled to the public healthcare with all the benefits of a national.

In term of registration, most employers will take care of this portion however you can visit and review the different types yourself. Some of the largest (and most commonly taken) providers in Germany are AOK, BEK and DAK.

 

Private Healthcare

In addition to the standard public scheme, you also have the option to take out a Private Krankenversicherung (PKV) match any of the following criteria:

  • an employee earning more than 61,000 euros annually
  • working part-time earning less than 450 euros a month
  • self-employed
  • a freelance professional;
  • a civil servant or certain other public employee.

The private scheme typically offers a wider range of dental and medical treatment options and in some cases is tax-deductible. The levels of coverage and premiums are dependent on individuals as opposed to the public scheme which looks mainly on a per family basis.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the healthcare system

Germany’s dual healthcare system is placed somewhere in between the American Market run system and the British state-run system. With many options to opt in or out of the pros and cons vary depending on your choice of public or private sector coverage, however here are a couple of the most commonly heard praises and complaints;

Pros:

  • Your GP choice is not limited by zip code. You have the free range of doctors and hospitals regardless of location
  • The Private healthcare has a multitude of  different options for providers
  • You do not  need a referral when looking for a specialist, they just need to be covered by your type of insurance.
  • The cost of state insurance is dependent on your taxable income
  • All students receive discounts and special benefits for state insurance

Cons:

  • The higher your taxable income is the higher your contribution to state insurance is
  • Some Private health insurers wont except expats until they have reached a minimum residency term
  • There are concerns that with the public/private system, many doctors will move to the private sector to earn a higher income and in do so leave less skilled doctors in the state care
  • In some circumstances insurance companies do not cover the full cost of a hospital stay. Patients staying overnight in hospital may be charged extra fees ( such as meals)

 

 

Helpful healthcare phrases:

  • Hospital – Krankenhaus
  • Patient – Patient
  • Sick – Krank
  • I am allergic to… – Ich bin alergisch gegen…
  • I need a doctor – Ich brauche einen Arzt.
  • I need an ambulance – Ich brauche einen Krankenwagen
  • I need a hospital – Ich brauche ein Krankenhaus.
  • There’s been an accident – Es gab einen Unfall.

For a list of body parts and other useful terms check out this link

 

Playing around Pürschling

Playing around Pürschling

The snow season is upon us, and what better way to enjoy the outdoors than…

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Sledding!!

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I had to accept a kid sled because the adult one was too big for me ):

..and hiking!

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Luckily here in Bavaria they really know how to enjoy the wintery months, and have ways for everyone to do it. If your like me and have never skiied before and dont quite have the time, sledding or rodeln is the best way to enjoy sliding around in the snow without getting too messy.

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This past weekend we headed over to Unterammergau where the Pürschling trail is

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A great year round hike, that just so happens to be a great ski spot in the winter with a superb sledding path. ( you hike up and sled all the way down, how fun is that?!)

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We didnt have our own sleds,but luckily when we stopped for a prep coffee

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in the worlds cutest gasthaus,

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they were renting them out and our day was made.

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So with  a little extra pep in our step and stomped up that mountain

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and let me tell youu, it was an absolutely gorgeous hike.

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Fozen rivers lining the trail, fellow sledders speeding down the hill, giggling the whole way

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the sun was warm on our cheeks as the cold our nipped  our noses

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Now I must admit, we didnt quite make it to the top- after 3,5 km uphill in the shin deep snow the fun had turned to some serious work and we were ready for play

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Der alte Rodeln bär

so WOOOSHHH we headed down down down the slippery mountain face.

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ice ice baby

Ending up at the bottom soaking wet ( next time definitly bring snow pants) hands frozen but overal bursting with bliss. We then decided to quickly get warmed up with some scrumptious  steamy soup and a well  deserved alcohol free weißbier

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Pro tip: Always end with soup

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Am ende wird alles gut

Am ende wird alles gut

Originally I had in mind to write a proper running post about the fantastic feeling New Years Eve running event, but in the end I think it was more so the feeling and what it stood for. Instead of another race day it was a day for reflection and the delightfulness that came along.

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It was so lovely. We ran the event in Olympia Park in Munich, it looked absolutely spectacular. A perfect sporty winter wonderland.

 

 

The night had frozen over and dusted the landscape with white. Everything ever so lightly twinkled, and glittered in the bright sunlight.

 

My friend Cora came along, she is absolutely darling. Not much of a sporty person. A hiker yes, but when it comes to other events, she tends to avoid. However unfamiliar with the activities she is, I really admire her ability to just shrug and say why not. I’ve previously invited her to events-we did a spontanious charity 10km in fall- and this time she agreed in the same nonchalant manner.

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I had aqcuired some nasty shin splints the last week from training so Cora and I managed to only do the 5km event.

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It was a short and sweet run. The air stung a bit and our hands turned bright pink. We paced ourselves and jogged it out at an average race pace. We were the middle women, just there to get our bright and cheery morning workout.

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FInishers mug. *points for creativity

This start of the day was lovely and set my mind off on a good reflection of the year. I have come to think until then about how difficult the year was. It seemed to be one of those times when everything is against you and nothing goes right. When constantly you feel you cannot get a moment to breathe because you must always struggle to keep your head above water and moving forward.

However, it was not entirely this. The bad seems to outweight the good and cloud our vision. We tend to dwell on mistakes, but now I see these were really valuable times. The challenges taught us to fight through, the hurt taught us how strong we really are inside.I am glad I made some mistakes and I am glad I had go through the trouble I did, because now I am stronger and more prepared for better things. Although it seems I have started at the begining again, I think this is ok and I have accepted it. I believe now as long as you know what you want and stay focused then perhaps things really will always work out in the end.

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