Mar 10, 2013

Private Health Insurance for Canadian Freelancers in Germany

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The aim of this post is help out any other Canadian (or non-EU) Freelancers in Germany who are currently struggling to find private health insurance. Just two months ago, I was in your shoes and I know it ain't a pretty situation. At the time, I needed to find "proper" German health insurance as a requirement to obtain a new Visa in order to stay in the country (the Visa I had was about to expire).

I found a plethora of info on the web about private health insurance in Germany in general, but no one out there could give me a straight answer! All I wanted to know was which private health insurance companies would accept me. The problem was, no one could direct me to one particular company as each company follows a different set of rules (i.e. each company is bureaucratic in its own way).



Truth #1. Relax. At least one German (private or state) health insurance company will accept you.
Truth #2. No, consulting an independent insurance broker is not necessary. Don't waste your money.
Truth #3. There'll be a lot of red tape to deal with. Come to terms with this fact now. Or else.
Truth #4. If you can't speak German fluently, having German friends "speak" for you will be helpful.



Contrary to popular belief, opting for "gesetzlich" (state) health insurance rather than "privat" (private) health insurance is a possibility. Mind you, as a non-EU Freelancer without previous German health insurance, the process doesn't come without a fight. Fearing the impossible, we gave it a shot at two big name state insurance companies, AOK and TK, before inquiring at any private health insurance companies. Personally, I believe being in the state system is economically and financially better in terms of the long run. Another disadvantage about the private system: it's hard to get out!

Here's what happened: AOK flat-out rejected me. TK, on the other hand, for some miracle accepted me!! The whole process with TK was strange, though. The lady who helped us at the TK office here in Braunschweig made it seem like it'd be impossible to accept me. Then, a few weeks later, I received an acceptance letter in the mail! But by that time, we'd already chosen a private insurance company. Besides, TK wanted to charge me something crazy like 300 Euros/month, which is way too much!

At this point, we'd given up on the idea of getting state health insurance and starting looking into private health insurance companies instead. Here's a list of the companies who either straight-up rejected me or couldn't accept me straight away: DEVK, Öffentliche, Fairversicherungsladen-Wiechers GmbH, HUK-Coburg, Concordia and AXA. I'm still boggled as to why none of these companies could accept me right away. All I know is that the system is insanely bureaucratic. Whatever the reasons were, sadly, at the time it made me feel like an unwelcome foreigner in Germany. But we never gave up hope.

The first company that accepted me right away is the company we ended up choosing (like we even had a choice). The name of that company is Gothaer. The package they offered me definitely isn't cheap, but at least it ain't 300 Euros/month!! I highly recommend Gothaer, but at the same time, I cannot guarantee that they will accept you. That's what's so frustrating about the system! There's a helluva lot of red tape in this industry, and it's just a matter of finding your own loophole through it. As well, always ask for the cheapest package! Most companies'll try to sell ya extra stuff ya don't need.

During this whole ordeal, there was always a Plan B. An unnamed insurance broker (whom I found on toytowngermany.com) was ready to sell me health insurance from an international company called ALC. Though this broker was extremely helpful and friendly, I couldn't be swayed for two reasons: #1) As per the requirements of getting my new Visa, it was important to have German health insurance, and ALC isn't based in Germany (even though it offers its services in Germany). #2) The packages he offered me were decently cheap but honestly just shitty! In the event that I ever needed emergency medical treatment, for example, with these packages I'd still have to pay an arm and a leg!! F that!!

I hope all the above information proves useful for you. Here are some links I found sorta helpful during the private health insurance hunt: How to get health insurance in Germany, Germany Guide: Health insurance. I generally didn't trust any of the Toytown threads about health insurance in Germany because everyone there would just tell me to contact a broker. So explore all your options and do your research! It'll all be worthwhile in the end. Good luck!!! *PS. None of the images in this post are mine.
 

5 comments:

  1. @Aiden: No problem. If I could help just one person out, I'm already a happy camper.

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