Public health insurance: which provider should I choose?
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Public health insurance: which provider should I choose?

Summary: What’s the difference between public health insurance providers and why are there so many of them?

When you first start out in Germany, you want to make sure that you’re choosing the right insurance that will fit your needs throughout your stay (or lifetime if you’ve made Germany your new home), but this can be tricky without knowing the language.

Here, we’ll talk about the basics of what you need to know when picking a provider.

There are 103 public health insurance providers in Germany (as of the 1st of January 2021) that you can choose from. In this article, we’ll take a look at four of the most popular health insurance providers in Germany. And, although health insurance is regulated by the government and the service you’ll get at each of the four is almost identical, they’re able to each provide small highlights that cater to different lifestyles. 

If you don’t choose the right one, then you may not be getting the most out of your public health insurance.

Is the cost of public health insurance providers different in Germany?

By law, all public health insurance providers in Germany must charge a base price for their services. For most people, this is about 14.6%, but you can use the Krankenkassen-Beitragsrechner (public insurance contribution calculator) to find out what you’d pay or visit our personal calculator on the homepage below. You’ll notice on the public insurance contribution calculator website that the amount will change depending on the provider in the drop-down menu, but these are only small differences ranging by about €10-€30. 

The overall price of public insurance can differ by a few hundred euros per year depending on your income and if you have additional contributions or Zusatzbeiträge

You can compare the different providers and prices on our public insurance page:

Which public health insurance provider offers the best customer service in English?

Although most public providers acknowledge the need for English documents, it might be difficult to rely on this fact when filing a claim or asking for paperwork. If you know you’re going to need time to learn German, you can sign up with health insurance through us, and we’ll translate everything for you and provide customer support in English. 

If you’d rather just pick a public provider directly, then TK has the best English support by far with great customer service.

Which public health insurance provider offers skin cancer screenings?

While cancer screenings are generally covered when a doctor recommends them, both AOK and TK are good choices. Most public insurance providers offer free skin cancer screens every year starting from the age of 35 while AOK fully covers them from the age of 14 and TK covers them every two years starting from the age of 20.

Which public health insurance provider offers pregnancy and fertility treatments?

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, having a baby, or seeking fertility treatment, then it might be a good idea to look at DAK. While all public insurers cover a certain number of health checkups for pregnant women, DAK and AOK both give €500 for extra diagnostic tests and ultrasounds. 

And while all of the insurers surveyed cover appointments with and delivery by a midwife, DAK gives up to  €500 to keep a midwife on call in the weeks leading up to the due date — significantly more than the  €200-270 provided by the other insurers. 

If you’re having trouble conceiving, then AOK may be the best choice — if both partners are insured by AOK, then it covers 75% of the costs of artificial insemination. The other insurers cover 50% of costs.

Which public health insurance provider covers mental health?

Mental health services can be difficult to come by in Germany. Particularly in bigger cities, there aren’t always enough psychotherapists in the public system to meet high demand. We actually wrote an article on how to find a therapist in Germany for those struggling. For publicly insured patients, it can take months to find a therapist. 

We’ll be honest: overall, the public system leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to mental health services. But DAK may be the best choice in this regard. 

DAK’s partnership with the VeoVita clinic network means that you can quickly get professional help for depression, anxiety, and burnout, receive guidance through your diagnosis, and access the necessary follow-up treatments. 

This system provides quicker access to guaranteed covered mental health care than other public insurance providers, but there’s still no guarantee that therapists will work in English.

Which public health insurance provider covers osteopathy?

According to the NHS, “osteopathy is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.” 

When you visit an osteopath, you’ll learn how to manage your back pain. But, since osteopathy isn’t recognized as a “medically necessary” intervention by public health experts, many public providers cover osteopathy as an “extra.”

AOK Nordost outperforms the other public providers in this regard by providing up to  €180/year for osteopath visits.

Which public health insurance provider covers travel vaccines ?

If you’re planning to travel the world (post-COVID, of course!), then you’ll probably need to get some travel vaccinations. Travel vaccinations aren’t part of the basic coverage that public providers offer. 

However, BARMER both cover up to 100% of travel vaccination costs for their members.

Looking for public health insurance? Sign up today in a couple minutes.