Moving from private to public health insurance

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My partner and I relocated to Germany in 2008. Both of us are currently privately insurance and each of our salaries are higher than EUR 4000 gross per month. We are unmarried and plan to have a child (or at least get pregnant) later this year. I plan on taking a 1 year maternity leave and returning to work thereafter. We plan on having 1-2 children.

 

I have been feeling quite secure with my private insurance. But I have been discussing this topic with several friends who are currently having children. They and their husbands are publicly insured even though the husbands make well over EUR 4000 per month. But the women do not plan to return to work. They think that my partner and I are crazy for having signed up for private insurance. :(

 

I am currently insured with Hallesche and pay a premium at just over 500 per month of which my employer pays half. I had the coverage and premium analysed by a financial broker late last year. He recommended at the time that I stay in that policy because it has the best coverage and at a competitive price. He advised that I could switch to a different Hallesche coverage and pay a lower monthly premium. There was a EUR 30 increase in January this year which I found to be pretty expensive. But I read somewhere on the forum that most (if not all) private insurance companies increased their premiums sharply due to a change in the law last summer. Does that mean that there will be little or no increase going into 2011? If there are steep increases year on year, then my insurance will soon become unaffordable.

 

I heard that when a woman is publicly insured she doesn't have to pay the monthly premiums when she is on maternity leave. Is that also the case for private health insurance holders? If not, would I have to pay the full premium during the maternity leave or does the employer continue to pay 50% of the premium?

 

Should I consider at all moving into the public system? My monthly premiums would surely increase but perhaps in the long term it would make more sense?

Is it even possible for me to consider public health insurance at this time.

 

Thanks for the input.

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mclinds:it´s complicated(what isn´t here?) and it depends.Some tariffs with private health insurers(usually the luxury ones) will offer a "premium holiday" when you´re receiving Elterngeld but this also depends in some cases whether you´re actually married and your husband has an income of over xyz.Assuming you ever had one or two children,you´d likely not go back to full time work(not trying to sound presumptious here..)but maybe to a part-time job,where you would likely again earn little and go back into the public system.Wouldn´t it worth your while clarifying this with Hallesche?And go through the options?At the moment you have to stay private because you´re earning enough and chose that option.

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My partner and I relocated to Germany in 2008. Both of us are currently privately insurance and each of our salaries are higher than EUR 4000 gross per month.

-- if you both were publicly insured, you would have paid EACH a net contribution of 342 EUR each month - with you both being privately insured you have certainly saved considerable money in the past while at the same time getting better service and treatment and all...

 

 

We are unmarried and plan to have a child (or at least get pregnant) later this year. I plan on taking a 1 year maternity leave and returning to work thereafter. We plan on having 1-2 children.

-- even if you should stay home for the rest of your life (which I don't think is what you plan to do, right?) wiht one high income and up to two children you are usually still a little bit better off in private health insurance than in public insurance - at least if we count in that you would want to have some supplementary private insurances at least for the children to get them the best coverage/treatment available in Germany... Once you would start to work again, the scale tips very much in favor of going private even more, because with two public insurance contributions you would really get a raw deal in Germany

 

 

I have been feeling quite secure with my private insurance. But I have been discussing this topic with several friends who are currently having children. They and their husbands are publicly insured even though the husbands make well over EUR 4000 per month. But the women do not plan to return to work. They think that my partner and I are crazy for having signed up for private insurance.

-- I doubt that any of them is even remotely well enough informed to give such a verdict. If you compare the increase in costs between public and private health insurances in the past decade, anyone with a solid private insurance was far better off than those people stuck in public insurance. And while you do get decent enough treatment in Germany as a public insurance member still (though this has deteriorated sharply over the last years and there is in effect already a two-class system in German health coverage) you will see much of a difference if and when you need some specialists to treat you or a family member for the first time. With private insurance coverage you'll get appointments fast and easy, with public coverage - especially during the last quarter of the year - you may not get an appointment at all or only after long waiting times.

Now, if someone really plans to stay at home as a mom for ever and if they have more than two children, then indeed public insurance at first glance offers you lower costs. But you have accept all the downsides, too and see what cost increase you have suffered as publicly insured person/family over time. And the end is not reached yet... coverage will be lowered even more while costs have to go up some more as we just noted with recent messages about increase of premiums in public insurance..

 

 

I am currently insured with Hallesche and pay a premium at just over 500 per month of which my employer pays half.

-- while this seems a bit high from my professional point of view, you are still saving currently nearly 100 EUR net from your income thru this private health insurance in comparison to public insurance...

 

 

I had the coverage and premium analysed by a financial broker late last year. He recommended at the time that I stay in that policy because it has the best coverage and at a competitive price. He advised that I could switch to a different Hallesche coverage and pay a lower monthly premium.

-- question: was this a truly independent advisor/broker or rather (as it sounds to me) a tied agent? Without even knowing the contract details and your age (which would determine the premiums a lot, as would any existing medical condition) I am quite sure that your insurance is in the top bracket of coverage and costs and I am not sure if you might not pay for some stuff there in the contract you neither need nor want. If you are under 40 years of age I would assume that I can get you really good coverage with all frills one would like to have for somewhere between 300-400 EUr tops. You might have Krankentagegeld in your insurance contract and other things you pay for a lot without that making a lot of sense in the end... I would advise that you get a third opinion from a truly independent broker/advisor - even though there will now be considerable time before you can actually cancel your existing contract and switch to another one (and if you become pregnant in the meantime, it will be even hard to switch you over).

 

 

There was a EUR 30 increase in January this year which I found to be pretty expensive. But I read somewhere on the forum that most (if not all) private insurance companies increased their premiums sharply due to a change in the law last summer. Does that mean that there will be little or no increase going into 2011? If there are steep increases year on year, then my insurance will soon become unaffordable.

This heavy increase was a one-time development and will not occur again anytime soon. It was just the result of severe legal changes which the private insurances tried to fight at the German supreme court in the summer of 2009 and lost their case, thus had to re-compute all their tariffs according to the new legal situation. Other then that there should be no more major increases in the next couple of years - and if some parts of the reform laws get re-written by the new governement their could even be decreases in premium costs again - something you won't see happening in public insurance for sure...

 

 

I heard that when a woman is publicly insured she doesn't have to pay the monthly premiums when she is on maternity leave.

-- that would only be true if she was/is compulsory insured in public insurance. You could only have been voluntarily insured and thus this would not apply to you...you would still have to continue paying contributions to the public insurance.

 

 

 

 

Is that also the case for private health insurance holders? If not, would I have to pay the full premium during the maternity leave or does the employer continue to pay 50% of the premium?

-- this will depend on how your work contract is set, i.e. what provisions the employer has to adher according to that...

 

 

Should I consider at all moving into the public system? My monthly premiums would surely increase but perhaps in the long term it would make more sense?

Is it even possible for me to consider public health insurance at this time.

-- you can't "decide" to go back to public insurance. Once you went for private there is no voluntary way back into public insurance - these rules are intended to prevent some free-rider problems where people use the private insurance with lower premiums as long as it has an advantage for them and when their situation changes and public seems to be more attractive in some light they would jump back to public.. that is not possible. The only way back into public insurance for you owuld be if you enter an employment with a gross salary below the legal threshold and thus you'd become a compulsory member (pflichtversichert).

But as said above, I would not advise that just so - someone should really look into all option for you and tell you, which way on medium and long-term perspective would be best for you. During pregnancy and for delievery I would definitely recommend superior private coverage anyway.

 

Cheerio

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Get hold of the recent copy of "Stern" that points out all the disadvantages

of being privately insured.

One of them is that often it is difficult or impossible to go back to

being publicly insured.

With private, premiums rise steadily with age and there is a danger of overtreatment...

And they will often not cover things like €10,000 special wheel chairs as provided by the

public insurers.

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I did of course read the article in STERN and it was so badly biased that I wonder when it will become evident that the public insurances where behind that with some major contributions like advertising contracts for a long time or so.

Some of the things reported have to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, others are really misleading, to say the least.

I can go into more details if anyone wants, of course....

 

Cheerio

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I agree with you starshollow. I read it too. I think the same as the argument I was giving on the long "public insurance" thread. In a system that millions of people participate in, examples where it does not work perfectly and / or people are unhappy are always going to be there. Harsh on the individual of course, but just the real world. I also presume (perhaps unfairly) that some of the "case studies" probably thought "oohh, so much less than public, lucky me" for years...until they needed that 10k wheelchair.

 

From an immigrant perspective, a lot of us have the luxury of perhaps not taking a long-term view too. The "here for the job" crowd may not be here at 60. We may not stay if we get a chronic illness (we Brits in particular know we have the luxury of going back into the NHS after a couple of months of residency).

 

Can only speak for my German family (all be it, they tend to be well-to-do) but they'd all take private, any time. They avoid public like the plague (although there's also a "class" issue there, it's not what a certain ilk uses). They'd just pay for the 10k wheelchair if needed.

 

I also think some state support kicks in at pensionable age, often, covering part of the premium, right? My older family members get it.

 

The "it costs more as you get older" argument is a two-way thing of course. It also means it costs less when we are younger and so we have to put some of the "saving" then aside for older age. I know I won't be paying 150 a month when I'm 70 but I also know that I'm getting it "on the cheap" now, early 40s with no pre-conditions.

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I have stayed in the public as I like the simplicity of not having to negotiate for a better deal (like the bog standard one-size fits all) and more importantly the public covers all the family very easily no-questions ask. When I am not in contract as now, I just ring and go onto my wife insurance for no extra costs. *

 

So each to their own but there are like all things in life pros and cons for both options.

 

* Less of an issue but still I also like the idea of the social side of public insurance as private insurance in general just creams of the profitable.

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Private insurance doesn't get more expensive as you get older anyway (not any more than the usual rises anyway). This is all factored into the calculation, they are putting money away now to cover your old age.

 

This is one reason why German insurance is a lot more expensive than international policies.

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Usually you can't eat the cake and have the cake.

 

And there is a catch, if only one of the parents is in public, the baby goes to the parent in private, at least it is like that when you are married, I do not know how it works for unmarried parents.

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Stanford:I appreciate your social views.However,owing to the crazy system here,many expats (freelancers or higher earning employees moving here,espeically from outside the EU)can´t get into the public system.And some freelancers can´t afford the public system with its minimum contributions!The issue is more complex than just creaming off profits..

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Hi Forum,

I am new to this and need help.

I came to Germany in 2006 on a good salary and was persuaded into a private health system by my bank. I was 58 at the time and the 750 Euro premium for my wife and I was a relatively small proportion of my net income. The company I worked for went under after two years and I took a job at a much lower income, in fact it was just over the legal threshold for private health insurance. Not only this but the premiums went up to 900 Euros so now I am paying more than 1/4 of my net income in heath insurance. I am having difficulty finding anybody to insure me because I am over 60 so I am stuck. What a terrible mistake it was to go for the private insurace. My unemployed English colleague who is also 61 recieves 400 Euros less a month than me for the next 2 years in unemployment benifits. Are becoming unemployed or returning to the UK my only options?

Terry

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Terry:you say your bank persuaded/recommended you to go private at the age of 58.Do you have any records of the meeting at the bank?Did they give you a good reason for recommending private insurance?Did you have the option of going into the public system?I don´t know and I don´t know what your options are but it sounds to me someone earned good commission.I have nothing against good commission (like it,in fact)but did they think of your best interests?

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Hi John,

Thank for the quick response.

I was already automatically put into SBK (public) by human resources at Qimonda (was a daughter of Siemens). The Deutsche Bank representative waited for me like a vulture on a post, her argument was improved service. The premiums were always higher than the public system but as a victim of poor NHS service all my life, I was attracted by the benefits she promised. I have records of this meeting, she summarized the benefits, but unfortunately she was a freelancer attached to Deutsche Bank and she is no longer there. Do you think I have a legal case?

Terry

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HI Terry: there are certainly a couple of options to lower your high premium costs. Within the insurance you are with you can certainly switch to a higher deductible/excess option and thus reduce your fixed monthly costs - unless you or your wife need permanent treatment and thus will use up the dedcutible for sure, it certainly would make sense on a short/midterm perspective. there also might be a lot of gimmicks in your insurance causing costs which you don't acutally need. That is something you or rather someone qualified to do that should check out soon.

 

You can also check what other insurance tariffs are out there - or rahter have an independent broker check this out for you. Unless your insurance is one of the view who have not raised their premiums over the turn of the year and would thus probably have to do so soon, you will have to wait to switch to another insurance till the end of the year (give notice in Sep for the switch to become effective by Jan 1st next year.

 

Since you are now over 57 years of age and went private for a while I can see no chance for you to get back into public insurance, I am afraid. But one other option which might be open to you is to ask your insurance if you can switch into the so called "Standard tariff" already, which is for pensioneers. this is not the new "BASIS" tariff, though. You might want to ask your insurance if they offer this standard tariff to you, too.

 

So, it is not hopeless but may take some time to get you out of this...

 

Cheerio

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Hi John,

There is another aspect of this that I have not mentioned yet, and is the reason why I am so frustrated. As previously mentioned the rate went up from 760 to 875 this year so I had the option to look elsewhere. Not only was the DKV very expensive but the tariffs were not competitive either. Another Deutshe Bank freelancer found an offer for me but not for my wife with Continental. The premiums were 30 euros less but the tariffs were much better. DKV were informed in good time and Continental gave a note that they would accept me from 1st Jan. Unfortunately the formal contract did not arrive until the 8th Feb, after the date that DKV had to receive a copy. As a result both of these companies now regard me as their customer and both of them are charging me. I have been dramatically nailed to the wall and feel like giving up with Germany altogether. At the very least I will take out my investments from Deutshe Bank and seek legal advice against them. What would you do?

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Terry,I agree with Starshollow about the downgrading of your policy (higher deductible,lower cover etc)...and definitely consult an independent insurance broker about this.I feel personally annoyed about tnis because, basically,I was lied to when I was new here.I signed up for 10 year contracts for household contents,private liability insurance when (ok,in broken German)I said I was only staying for a year...and I didn´t have a flat!I don´t know if you have a legal case..I didn´t do it but I would be really annoyed if I were you.

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Terry:let me sleep on this..will get back to you tomorrow

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DKV were informed in good time and Continental gave a note that they would accept me from 1st Jan. Unfortunately the formal contract did not arrive until the 8th Feb, after the date that DKV had to receive a copy

Ok, here the guy who set you up with CONTINENTALE really made a mistake in not taking care that the legal confirmation of insurance was issued by the CONTI before Dec. 31st. It is still new to some who do not deal constantly with health insurances but because of the new legal situation that no resident in Germany may be without health insurance a cancellation of one contract becomes only valid if during the notice time you can provide a legally binding confirmation from the new insurance that you are covered right after the the date the other insurance contract ends. Which is why I, for instance, was working hard on the 29th, 30th and even 31st of Dec. to get all my clients who wanted to switch confirmed by the new insruance and could send the confirmation by proffable way to the "old" insurance. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile for you clients if you want to provide a decent service.

 

So, yes, you are stuck with the old insurance for another year, I am adraid. Your next chance to cancel will most likely be in Sep. with effect per Jan 2011. Having said that: it could be that your contract does not run on a calendar year circle but but starts and ends within the year. This is something you or an independent broker should check to make sure you do not miss another deadline for cancellation.

 

The double charging is a different issue and should not become a problem for you. First of all you can recall at least the February deduction from CONTI directly by telling your bank that you have a "Widerspruch" against their Lastschrift. The money will just be returned to your account, no questions asked. Since there is a 6week time limit to do that it may be to late for the January payment. But you can simply inform them with registered mail that due to the fact that their confirmation arrived to late the "old" insurance did not accept your cancellation and that the new contract is nil and void. The agent selling it to you will moan and cry because he has to repay the commission....should have done a better job.

 

I know the CONTI tariffs and I am reasonably sure that you have not been offered the least expensive solution for you on the market. CONTI is good, especially the ECONOMY tariff, but in your situation there are other providers which would offer far better/cheaper premiums for also good coverage.

 

Talk to John or any other decent independent broker and get someone to settle this for you who knows his Sh..t - the sales person (he is certainly not an advisor) you had can be no further help here and will be reluctant to do anything because he is just losing a very high commission (around 7200 Eur he may have already spent)by telling CONTI that your contract did not work out because he or they made a mess of the switching process. You don't need the agrevation and get depressions because all of this - let professionals handle that. They'll earn good money too, eventually, but at least they give you good service for it.

 

Cheerio

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Hello Terry:I´ve just got home..long day!Have also just reread everything, including Starshollow´s excellent comments(as absolutely always).The easiest thing would be for you to contact any one of us advertising our services on Toytown for a proper chat.The documentation and "minutes of the meeting" (Beratungsprotokoll) will help.I doubt if any of us can promise a magic solution but some solidarity wouldn´t go amiss.Best wishes,John

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Hi all

 

I have a question concerning going back to public health insurance (GKV).

 

I have been privately insured (PKV) since 2001 and am single (with no plans to have children too).

 

I have just changed by job. The current employer is asking me to provide proof that I have been privately insured since Feb 2007. If I fail to provide them, I would have to switch from PKV to GKV. So now I have the benefit to choose between the two. I have the proof but I could switch to GKV simply by not providing the proof to them.

 

The difference premium I save now is about 150EUR (just my portion) if I am PKV insured, I have not included the money I would get back if I do not use the insurance.

 

I learnt from a few friends (older ones) or their parents (all Germans), if one is about 50 yo or so, that is when the premium paid for PKV and GKV would be the same. I am now 40 so would have another 10 or so years to reach this breakeven point.

 

Majority of them are telling me to take this opportunity to switch from PKV to GKV and not to be short-sighted. They explained that I would pay more for the next 10 years by switching into GKV but thereafter, I would be paying lesser.

 

Their bigger concern for them is that upon retirement, a big portion of my pension will go to pay for my PKV, and already now, many older people already cannot always afford it (without switching into the standard tariff).

 

Whereas for GKV, the amount is always a fixed percentage (15% I was told) of my pension and rental income.

 

Does this make sense for me to take this opportunity to switch to PKV?

 

I would be grateful for your views, especially from the older TT members who are at this stage of their life.

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