Tips and tricks on how to switch from expensive private health insurance in Germany 2022


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For employees, self-employed, families and retirees: These tips and tricks will help you to easily switch to the statutory health insurance in Germany

Expensive private health insurance: Once stuck in private health insurance, it is often difficult to get out. Increasing contributions can therefore become a cost trap.

But there are tips and tricks with which employees, self-employed, families and pensioners get back into the statutory health insurance – you just have to know them!

expensive private health insurance

What is the difference between statutory health insurance and expensive private health insurance?

Statutory health insurance Expensive private health insurance
Statutory health insurance (GKV) works according to the apportionment principle: This means that young, healthy high-earners pay significantly more on average than they take advantage of. 
In this way, they finance the health costs of the elderly, the sick and low-wage earners who pay less.

The scope of benefits is not guaranteed in statutory health insurance, but can be changed by the legislator at any time.

Do you remember, for example, the times when all your dental costs were paid for by statutory health insurance?
Private health insurance (PKV) works according to the funded principle. 
There is a statistical distribution of risk: healthy people pay for the sick, but not the young for the old or high-income for low-wage earners.

For the higher expenses in old age, provisions are made for the insured at a young age. 
This means that private health insurance, in contrast to statutory health insurance, is not influenced by demographic developments.

Private health insurance benefits are 
guaranteed for a lifetime .

Employee: Switching from an expensive private health insurance to the statutory health insurance

expensive private health insurance

In order to switch to statutory health insurance, employees must become compulsory. There are two important conditions for this:

1. You must not be 55 years old.

2. The salary must not exceed the applicable limit. This is currently 62 250 euros gross annually. For those who were already privately insured as an employee on December 31, 2002, a lower limit of currently 56,250 euros applies.

In other words, if you are older or earn more, you cannot change as an employee.

These are the salary tricks that a change can use:

▶ It is enough if your annual salary falls below the limit to be able to switch to statutory health insurance. You should therefore ask your employer whether you are entitled to a temporary part-time agreement and whether you can reduce your working hours to such an extent that your salary falls below the threshold.

▶ If your employer offers what is known as a working time account to which you can have your work credited for the future, this is another way of reducing your salary and thus achieving compulsory insurance. 

▶This can also work with a voluntary “Sabbatical year”.

▶ You can also reduce your salary by allowing part of it to flow into a company pension scheme (deferred compensation). This is currently possible up to an amount of 3,216 euros per year.

Self-employed: Switching from an expensive private health insurance to the statutory health insurance

expensive private health insurance

In order to be able to switch, the case that triggers the so-called compulsory insurance must first arise. This happens e.g. when you sign an employment contract and give up self-employment or only do it part-time

Attention: Here, too, you must not be older than 55 years.

This applies if you only want to be self-employed as a part-time job:

▶ You are not allowed to have any other employees with earnings above the minijob limit of 450 euros per month.

▶ As an employee, you must earn at least as much as you will gain from your self-employment. If the profit is more than 20 percent above the salary, the health insurance companies assume that self-employment is of great importance. The monthly income as an employee should also be above the limit of 1,592.50 euros if possible.

▶ As an employee, you have to work more than 20 hours a week.

But: Once you have been accepted as an employee in the statutory health insurance, you can later work full-time again and still remain in the fund.

Families: Switching from an expensive private health insurance to the statutory health insurance

expensive private health insurance

If your spouse or registered partner is a member of a statutory health insurance scheme, you can become a member of his or her health insurance fund. 

Prerequisite: You are not allowed to earn any more yourself. There is no age limit.

And: Your total income may not exceed the applicable maximum limit.

Retiree/Pensioner: Switching from an expensive private health insurance to the statutory health insurance

expensive private health insurance

A pensioner who reduces his pension for a certain period of time can also switch to his spouse’s family insurance. This works with the so-called flexi pension. This means that the pension is not paid out in full. Ask your pension advisor for more information.

In general: Legislators make the change difficult, the older you get, the harder it is. Often, however, private health insurance remains affordable in old age because many tariff modules are no longer available.

Other: Switching from an expensive private health insurance to the statutory health insurance

expensive private health insurance

Unemployment benefit recipients

▶ Anyone who receives unemployment benefit I automatically becomes compulsory for statutory health insurance.

Returnees who were residents of other EU countries

A detour via other EU countries is another way of entering the statutory health insurance (GKV) when returning to Germany. 

▶To do this, you have to become a member of the statutory health insurance scheme in other EU countries. In order to join the German statutory health insurance system, proof is required that you were previously a member of the foreign health insurance scheme. There is no age limit here either.

The general rule is: get good advice before you make the change, then a lot depends on it. It can often be enough to change the tariff within the private health insurance. Most consumer advice centers offer such advice.

Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany



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