A lot of folks in the US ask me what German health insurance is like. As a former resident of Germany (2003 to 2008) and a participant in their public health insurance program (there is also a separate, private system, which I know nothing about) here are 7 differences I noticed:
1. It has a different name.
It’s not “health insurance.” It’s Krankenversicherung, or illness insurance. Krankenversicherung is a protection against financial devastation, it’s no guarantee you’re going to be healthy.
Personally, I refer to my policy payments every month as Illsurance. We have car insurance for our cars, and home insurance for our homes, why not Illsurance for illnesses?
2. Your payments are percentages, not flat fees.
Depending on your Krankenversicherung, you pay roughly 14% of your income towards your policy. Your employer pays a bit less. Thus the monthly payments change depending on and related to your income changes, but there is a cap on how much you pay when you’ve reached EUR 4,350/month gross. Insurance companies can change the percentages, however they are relatively small and they are announced in advance.
3. It’s a lot less paperwork.
During the years I lived in Germany, I had only one extra sheet of paperwork to fill out.
In FIVE YEARS I only had to do extra paperwork ONCE. That includes doctor visits for antibiotics, annual visits, and even an outpatient procedure. (And the Krankenversicherung paid for my taxi to get to the office for the procedure and back.)