Insurance during old age
An old Italian couple speaking to each other in front of a building

Insurance during old age

If you’re thinking about retiring in Germany or are already retired, then you’ve probably heard about the Krankenversicherung der Rentner (KVdR) or Health Insurance for People who are Retired. In this article, we discuss if you’re eligible, what has changed in recent years, and how the monthly payments work.

Do insurance payments change when I’m older?

Yes, if you’re on public health insurance, your payments will change when you’re older. Depending on how long you’ve been on public health insurance during the second half of your career (generally starting at the age of 40 as a rough estimate) and how much you earn during retirement (including how you earn it) will impact the price you pay for the Krankenversicherung der Rentner (KVdR) or Health Insurance for People who are Retired.

If you’re currently insured under public health insurance and working full time, you might only be paying 7.3% of your income per month while your employer pays 14.6%. You might have assumed that the government since you’re retired, would have a similar plan, but it’s Germany. So, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

The questions we’ll answer next are why do insurance payments change when you’re older, and how do you know which type of insurance you qualify for? 

Were you insured after 40 under public health insurance for more than 90% of the time?

Again, this is quite specific, but it’s German bureaucracy, so we have to do our best. The first thing you have to check is if you were insured under public insurance for more than 90% of the second half of your career (most people judge this starting at age 40, but could vary for those who have started their careers later or retired earlier). If the answer is yes then you qualify for the Krankenversicherung der Renter KVdR or roughly translated: Health Insurance for People who are Retired. 

Additionally, it’s also important to note that this insurance is from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung, which distributes German pensions. That means you need to have paid into the German pension for at least 90% of the time you were insured under public health insurance during the second part of your career (and not privately insured or insured abroad). Pension insurance doesn’t factor into this equation as long as you also paid into the German pension as well.

There is an option for those with public health insurance in another country to pay extra contributions to qualify for Germany’s KVdR. This, however, must be requested from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung and is determined on an individual basis.

Freiwillig vs. pflichtversichert (voluntarily vs. compulsorily insured)

Usually, it’s a good thing to be voluntarily insured because it means you’re able to decide which insurance you want, but for the KVdR, it’s actually not a good thing. Depending on your status, it will actually change the amount you’ll need to pay monthly. 

If you’re getting a pension from the German government and fulfill the requirements mentioned above, then you’re compulsory insured under the KVdR. You’ll pay contributions for any income excluding private pension insurance, income from renting (like a flat or a house), or interest payments.

Another benefit of the KVdR is that you get to pick your public health insurance provider. If you’re unhappy, you can also switch public health insurance providers while already in the KVdR. 

What if I never worked?

If you never worked, then the date of your first marriage (or if no marriage happened, then when you turned 18) counts as the beginning of your employment time. Many times those who raise children or have disabilities have a difficult time working and never end up with full-time employment. This additional clause makes it possible to have healthcare regardless of how people spent their lives. 

The Vorversicherugszeit (time before insurance)

This is the time before you were insured with the KVdR and used only to include insurance periods where people were insured through public insurance. Since 2017, that rule to determine this period of time has changed. For each child someone has (regardless of whether the parent decided to stay home with the child or not), 3 years are added to the Vorversicherungszeit. The only rule is that the children are born before your retirement and also includes adoptive and foster children. 

If you’ve already been denied entry into the KVdR and didn’t know there was a regulation change, you can speak with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung about getting insured. 

I am about to retire. What will happen?

If you are publicly insured and know that you fulfill the requirements for the KVdR, then once you start getting your pension payments from the German government, you’ll get a questionnaire from your current health insurance provider. 

This information will help them determine your health insurance payments. For most health insurance providers, you can fill this out online, in person at one of their offices, or by sending them the questionnaire back in the mail. 


Freelancers, lawyers, pharmacists, and others who are voluntarily insured

For those unable to get on public health insurance during their careers, there was a loophole created to allow you to get into the KVdR under certain circumstances. 

Lawyers, pharmacists, freelancers, and other professions are generally part of what’s known as a Versorgungswerk or pension fund. Because these pension payments are usually a lot more than what’s required for the standard German pension insurance, people are exempt from paying into the standard German pension. 

The first condition then follows that they still have to spend at least 90% of the second half of their career publicly insured. The second condition is that they have the right to a German pension through the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

Everyone who contributes at least 5 years to the German public pension fund is entitled to receive a pension. You can check this by contacting the Deutsche Rentenversicherung

How much will I need to pay?

It really depends on your situation. There are four general classes that each require different contributions. So, depending on how much of each of the four you have, your monthly health insurance payments will be different: 

  1. Foreign pension payments
  2. Remuneration for non-public pensions
  3. Income for side projects
  4. Private income

If you’re compulsory insured, then you’ll pay 7.3% of your public pension, 14.6% of non-public pensions, and 14.6% of income from side projects per month. The rest are not counted as contributions.

Now, if you’re voluntarily insured, this id different. You’ll pay the same for the first three as people who are compulsory insured, but then for income from renting, interest, dividends, and private pensions, You’ll pay 14%. Although, if your side project doesn’t make as much, the KVdR might drop the contribution to 14%.

Can Feather help me with my KVdR application?

We, unfortunately, can’t at the moment. You’ll need to go to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung to sort out everything you need. They already have your information, so you’ll just need to retire, start getting German public pension payments and contact your public health insurance provider for more information. 

If you’re interested in using Feather’s services like free customer service and submitting claims online, you can switch your public health insurance provider by sending us an email. We’ll give you a template to send to your insurance provider (currently only available for TK, AOK, Barmer or DAK customers), who will then allow you to make an account.

From there, you can sign up for our other insurances like dental, life, or liability insurance. All your claims can be made from the same Feather account.