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Health insurance for translators in Germany?
Thread poster: Anders Dalström

Anders Dalström
Germany
Local time: 00:03
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...
May 19, 2013

Hello,

I have recently relocated from Ireland to Germany (Berlin) and am now looking into setting up a business here. I believe I know how to go about registering (more or less) but the German predilection for insurances is giving me a bit of a headache. As far as I understand health insurance is compulsory as of a few years ago. How do I go about signing up for one? How much should I expect to pay (reasonably healthy, but a bit past my prime at 36)? Any recommendations as to a good insurance company (and by good I mean cheap - I don't have health insurance at the moment and never bothered to get one while I lived in Ireland)?

My German is nicht so gut, so I've tried to find information in English, for example on toytowngermany.com, but people who write there tend to be quite negative and often rude, so I thought I try here instead in the hope of friendlier replies...


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:03
German to English
+ ...
See this May 19, 2013

http://www.versicherung-in.de/gesetzliche-krankenversicherung-fuer-selbststaendige-110/

Which explains the benefits of the state health fund (you need health insurance in Germany cos there isn't a health service is in GB (not sure about Ireland) that covers you irrespective of insurance.)

The advantage of the state scheme is that the premiums are purely income-related and not health/age related; your wife and kids are included (I think for the same rate). I woudl ask teh private insurers what they would charge you and compare prices. All state schemes charge the same premiums.


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Petra_44  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:03
English to German
+ ...
no title May 19, 2013

As far as I know, it's not required to have health insurance if you are a freelancer, but it's highly advisable.

There are two kinds of insurance, "private Krankenversicherung" and "gesetzliche Krankenversicherung". It is an open secret that the first will get you better treatment and you'll get an appointment a lot sooner. However, there is a medical examination (i.e. a questionnaire) and if you have any chronic disease, you must opt for "gesetzliche Krankenversicherung" where you will be a "freiwilliges Mitglied" as insurance is not compulsory for you.

It makes a difference which kind of "gesetzliche KV" you choose, too, as some are easier for the doctor's office to deal with than others. However, they are not permitted to recommend you those that give them less problems. ... you need to find out about that by trial and error, and by talking to other patients. I'd say "Techniker Krankenkasse" and "Audi BKK" are ok, but if you can get it, "private Krankenversicherung" would of course be preferrable.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
French to German
+ ...
Health insurance... May 19, 2013

has been compulsory for everyone since the beginning of 2009.

If you don't have a family to insure, I would probably opt for a private insurance, since it is probably cheaper (state schemes currently charge 14.9 % of your taxable income plus around 2 % for compulsory nursing care insurance).



[Edited at 2013-05-19 08:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-19 08:16 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
German to English
+ ...
My experience with private health insurance in Germany May 19, 2013

is not a happy one. They are regulated to some degree, but the price still goes up every year. I started out paying a lower (flat) rate than I would have for the "gesetzliche", but over time it was a mistake, as I was paying an exorbitant monthly fee for something I rarely used - more than 800 Euros a month, which was higher than the rest of my other monthly expenses combined, and it would have kept on going infinitely. Obviously, it is not income-based. There's no getting around that with any private insurance because they all work that way. The way to go is to get an income-based "gesetzliche" insurance, and pay extra for supplemental private insurance for the added perks you want, which is quite reasonable last I looked. That's what I SHOULD have done, in retrospect, because once you are privately insured, you are stuck with it. You cannot switch back to the "gesetzliche KV" later. Believe me, I tried it six ways to Sunday. No dice.

I ended up giving up on German health insurance altogether, and finding one that was much more reasonable with better coverage specifically for American expats. German health insurance doesn't at all live up to its reputation, which was justified at one time, but hasn't been for years. I've lived here long enough to remember "the good old days" - they are long gone.


Edited to add: And yes, it has been compulsory for everyone for the last few years. Here's a list of all of the "gesetzliche Krankenversicherungen". They have branches everywhere and can be found in your local phone book:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_gesetzlichen_Krankenkassen_in_Deutschland

The top two categories would apply to you, the rest are related to specfic professions or employers. You might also try joining a translators' association, like BDÜ, and I assume the Swedish embassy could give you the appropriate information (assuming you still have a Swedish passport).

[Edited at 2013-05-19 09:59 GMT]


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Anders Dalström
Germany
Local time: 00:03
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all! May 19, 2013

I really appreciate all the useful information you have provided. Think I'll start off with Woodstock's suggestion and go the Swedish embassy, wave my Swedish passport at them and ask them what they would recommend. I might come back here crying for help in a week's time again...

One more question, it might be a stupid one, but I assume that health insurance premiums are tax deductible? Being Swedish I don't mind paying tax, but paying premiums to insurance companies is not really my idea of fun and games. If income tax is around 30% and the gesetzliche Versicherung (14,9%) or a private insurance to the tune of a couple of hundred euros a month is added to that, it's going to be a very wet blanket on my enthusiasm, especially as this will be an additional expense that I didn't have when I was living in Ireland.


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James Heppe-Smith  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
Member (2010)
German to English

Moderator of this forum
Health insurance May 19, 2013

is not compulsory for a freelancer. However, as already pointed out, it is highly recommended. If you have children who need to be insured too, the only real way to do it is to be voluntarily insured with one of the gesetzliche KK. Private insurance would be much more expensive to cover any dependants. For me with 4 children, it was a no-brainer.

The cost varies, but they base the insurance cover on a minimum income up to the maximum income levels (http://www.tk.de/tk/bei-der-tk-versichert/freiwillige-pflichtige-krankenversicherung/versicherungspflichtgrenzen/345798). There is some more information there in German about health insurance.

Just edited to add that the range of charges for health and compulsory care insurance are listed here:
http://www.tk.de/tk/bei-der-tk-versichert/selbststaendige/selbststaendige/346546

The lower earnings limit can be reduced for newly started businesses, but I seem to recall that the process was a bit of a pain, so didn't bother.

Income tax is on a sliding scale depending on your income. There are tax free amounts you can earn before tax is raised, very dependent on your individual circumstances. Make sure that you register the business with the Finanzamt as a Freiberufler, worth - in my opinion - consulting a tax adviser prior to doing anything to see what the best option is for you in your circumstances.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2013-05-19 10:59 GMT]


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
French to German
+ ...
Yes, they are May 19, 2013

Anders Dalstrom wrote:

One more question, it might be a stupid one, but I assume that health insurance premiums are tax deductible?


Yes, they are.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
French to German
+ ...
I beg to differ May 19, 2013

James Heppe-Smith wrote:

is not compulsory for a freelancer.


I beg to differ.

To quote from Wikipedia: "Seit 1. Januar 2009 besteht gemäß § 193 III VVG die Allgemeine Krankenversicherungspflicht. Alle Personen mit Wohnsitz in Deutschland müssen sich bei einem in Deutschland zugelassenen Krankenversicherer gegen Krankheitskosten versichern." (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krankenversicherung_in_Deutschland)

If you live in Germany, that's what applies to you, no matter whether you are freelancer or not.


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James Heppe-Smith  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
Member (2010)
German to English

Moderator of this forum
Requirement to be insured May 19, 2013

inkweaver wrote:

James Heppe-Smith wrote:

is not compulsory for a freelancer.


I beg to differ.

To quote from Wikipedia: "Seit 1. Januar 2009 besteht gemäß § 193 III VVG die Allgemeine Krankenversicherungspflicht. Alle Personen mit Wohnsitz in Deutschland müssen sich bei einem in Deutschland zugelassenen Krankenversicherer gegen Krankheitskosten versichern." (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krankenversicherung_in_Deutschland)

If you live in Germany, that's what applies to you, no matter whether you are freelancer or not.



Sorry, yes. You are right, of course! I became self employed before this was introduced. Even if not compulsory, it would be rather foolish not to be insured anyhow, so I went for the freiwillig route with a gesetzliche KK.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:03
Hebrew to English
Wow May 19, 2013

I wandered into this thread out of interest and after reading the information I'm thoroughly re-appreciative of the NHS. (warts and all!)

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Anders Dalström
Germany
Local time: 00:03
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not easy being an immigrant... May 20, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:

I wandered into this thread out of interest and after reading the information I'm thoroughly re-appreciative of the NHS. (warts and all!)


I suppose the weaknesses of a country's systems become very obvious very quickly to people from another country who have to struggle to make sense of it all. In Germany's case the health system seems to be a mess. It's not easy being an immigrant. I struggled when I moved to Ireland and now I'm struggling in Germany and I still speak the languages (well...to a certain extent anyway when it comes to German) and don't have to worry about the scorn from xenophobic natives as I can blend in fairly easily. People who move to cultures that are completely different to their own deserve more credit (not talking about myself here, Sweden - Ireland - Germany is a cosy triangle in this context).


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:03
German to English
+ ...
Perspective May 21, 2013

Anders Dalstrom wrote:

Ty Kendall wrote:

I wandered into this thread out of interest and after reading the information I'm thoroughly re-appreciative of the NHS. (warts and all!)


I suppose the weaknesses of a country's systems become very obvious very quickly to people from another country who have to struggle to make sense of it all. In Germany's case the health system seems to be a mess.


And here I am in the States, looking back *very* fondly on the German health insurance we used to have (husband had private; daughter and I had gesetzlich)! You want to see a mess...

PS I had Techniker and was always satisfied with it - and I had a baby while living in Germany.

[Edited at 2013-05-21 03:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-21 03:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-21 03:32 GMT]


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:03
French to German
+ ...
A word of warning... May 21, 2013

If you opt for "gesetzlich", make sure that the premium is calculated correctly. When I changed from one GKV to another last year I nearly fainted when I saw what they were trying to charge me.

Of course my taxable income was higher than the year before but it wasn't that much higher. I don't know whether it was just a mistake or whether they were trying to rip me off. A letter to the management fixed the problem. So perhaps it's better to ask for a quote from two or three GKVs.

I tend to agree with Anders, the health system is a bit of a mess. I don't really see the reason why there should be over a hundred GKVs, especially since they are not allowed to charge their own premiums anymore.

Others may think differently but I think freelancing in Germany is not for the faint of heart. It's all fine as long as you're employed (with a good salary) or if you run a big company I guess, but freelancing in Germany is no bed of roses. But, as I said, that's just my humble opinion.


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Petra_44  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:03
English to German
+ ...
This is what my tax software has to say about it May 21, 2013

"Die Beiträge zu einer Basiskranken- und zur Pflegeversicherung sind ab dem Jahr 2010 unbegrenzt abziehbar.

Die Beiträge für Zusatz-, Wahl- und Komfortleistungen [such as Einzelzimmer, Chefarztbehandlung] und für freiwillige Pflegeversicherungen können Sie weiterhin nur begrenzt abziehen".

I'd recommend you get "Konz: 1000 ganz legale Steuertricks". There's a red and an orange version, and the red version is better for beginners. Don't be put off by the bulk, you can skip everything that doesn't apply to you and it's actually quite readable.

By the way, my tax software, that's "Steuer Spar-Erklärung" by "Akademische Arbeitsgemeinschaft", and it's the next best thing to getting a tax consultant.


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