Techniker Krankenkasse Exposed

Techniker Krankenkasse is one of the largest German public health insurance. Many expats living in Germany are insured with TK. But are they lying to you? 😱


Health insurance is a topic of big interest for many expats living in Germany. Some people think German health insurance is completely free – which is not true. Others believe that private health insurance is better than public health insurance – which is generally speaking true for some people.

With about 11 million insured people, Techniker Krankenkasse is by far the largest public health insurance in Germany. As soon as you want to leave Techniker Krankenkasse and want to switch to the private health insurance system, they send you this mysterious number 2028658 you should type into the search bar of their website.

The code leads you to an article on the website of Techniker Krankenkasse that is comparing public health insurance against private health insurance. Let us put this article to the test to see how objective it really is, considering Techniker Krankenkasse is a public health insurance that wants to keep you as its customer.

The comparison starts with an interesting article from a German economic magazine that basically states that it is debatable if public or private health insurance is better for a regular person. The article also states that private health insurance is clearly better for government employees.

85% of civil servants are insured in the private health insurance system, making them the largest group of privately insured people. Why are government employees creating laws for public health insurance and switching to private health insurance themselves if public health insurance is “good”? 🤔

In case anyone from Techniker Krankenkasse is reading this article: You published the following comparison on your website lying to your customers. Please do not blame us for being transparent with our readers and please do not sue us. Rather take responsibility for your own content. Thank you very much. Feel free to contact us in case you want to work on your comparison together to make it better.

Difference Of Public Vs Private Health Insurance #1: Premium

The table on the Techniker Krankenkasse website starts to compare the monthly premiums of public vs private health insurance which is of course very important when choosing the right health insurance for yourself. Premiums for public and private are calculated very differently.

Public health insurance is charging 14,6% of your gross salary as premium (+0,35% – 2,5% in additional contribution depending on the efficiency of your public health insurance company). So your total premium is 14,95% – 17,1% of your gross salary that you share 50/50 with your employer.

A gross salary above 64.350€ per year is free of public health insurance contributions, leaving the maximum premium in 2022 at 917€ every month. What Techniker Krankenkasse forgets to mention in their health insurance comparison is that the maximum threshold for public health insurance premiums rises usually every year.

While your premium for the public health insurance is dependent on your income, the premium of your private health insurance is depending on other factors and has nothing to do with how much you earn:

  • General health status: The healthier you are, the cheaper your premium will be
  • Age: The younger you are, the cheaper the insurance (like disability income insurance)
  • Coverage: The higher the coverage, the higher the private health insurance premium
  • Deductible: The higher your co-payment, the lower your monthly premium as you share the risk

Every private health insurance company will ask health questions when applying for the insurance checking for pre-existing conditions. Based on your health questions private health insurance can charge you a risk surplus because of certain conditions or reject your application completely. Similar to any other private company, private health insurance companies have the right to choose who they want to have as customers and who they do not want to work with.

Is public or private health insurance better for you? Let's find out together.

Difference Of Public Vs Private Health Insurance #2: Premium In Special Cases

Disability: When being disabled, public health insurance decides your premium depending on if you are a forced (<64.350€ gross salary in 2022) member or a voluntary (>64.350€ gross salary in 2022 or self-employed) member of the public health insurance system.

Forced members of the public health insurance can generally speaking pay lower premiums while being disabled. Voluntary members have to pay full public health insurance contributions on their income – even when being disabled. The world is a lot more complicated than TK tries to make it.

Members of private health insurance as well as voluntarily insured people in public health insurance have to continue paying health insurance contributions in disability. That is why disability income insurance is considered must-have insurance in Germany (like private liability insurance).

Retirement: Public health insurance will always charge you about 16% of your earnings (even rental income from real estate). The big (unsubstantiated) fear of many privately insured people is that premiums will explode when they are old.

Because of the seniority savings of the private health insurance that is very unlikely going to happen. While privately insured people save at least 10% of their premium for retirement, publicly insured people save nothing that will help to keep their health insurance premiums as low as possible in retirement.

Please do not switch to the private health insurance system only for the reason that you can save money while you are young. As stated above, private health insurance premiums are not calculated based on your income. So if you are relying on the German public pension as your only income in retirement, you are doomed (especially as a privately insured person).

Members of the private health insurance need to plan ahead and use the money they are saving when switching from public health insurance for investment in ETFs or mutual funds, rental properties that can be rented out, and/or additional private pensions from level 1, level 2, or level 3. Just do not plan on becoming poor in retirement. 😊

Difference Of Public Vs Private Health Insurance #3: Special Perks

Family insurance: The biggest positive argument for public health insurance is that children and spouses might be insured for free. Your spouse will only be insured free of any health insurance premium if they have no income, and your kids will only be insured for free if they are younger than 23 or 25 years of age.

In the private health insurance sector, every person has their own health insurance contract, meaning also that every insured person will have their own premium. As high-earning adults can save a lot of money by switching to the private health insurance, it is not that bad to pay 100€ – 150€ per month for the child private health insurance (actually just 50€ – 75€ per month because health insurance premiums are split 50/50 with your employer).

Sick leave / maternity leave: In both scenarios, you might be insured free of any premium in public health insurance. Again, it depends if you are a forced member earning less than the threshold salary of 64.350€ per year or a voluntary member earning more than the health insurance threshold. As a voluntary member, you have to continue paying public health insurance premium even on sick leave or maternity leave.

In private health insurance, the premium on sick leave or maternity leave is highly dependent on your exact private health insurance contract. The newer product lines will not charge any premium during these times, because private health insurance companies keep adapting their plans for the better of the consumer. Public health insurance keeps adapting to the worst lowering its coverage while increasing its premiums.

Which private health insurance plan is the best for your individual situation? Let's talk and find out together.

6+ weeks sick leave: By German law, your employer will pay in times of sick leave for at least 6 weeks. Some companies pay up to a year but most employers in Germany pay the mandatory 6 weeks. During that time, you will still receive 100% of your salary from your employer. What happens after 6 weeks? 🤔

Public health insurance is comparing 2 numbers: 90% of your net salary vs 70% of your gross salary. Out of those 2 numbers, they will pay you whichever amount is lower if you are continuously sick for more than 6 weeks. And no matter how much you earn, 112,88€ daily is the maximum sick leave payment in public health insurance.

As private health insurance is as flexible as it gets, you can choose yourself how much sick leave money you would like to have. 700€ daily was the maximum we could find which would result in 21.000€ net sick leave money per month. The higher your benefits, the higher your monthly private health insurance premium of course – but sick leave benefits are surprisingly cheap.

Stability of benefits: As the minimum coverage of all health insurance is determined by the German social code, there is a standard that guarantees the least amount of benefits all German health insurances have to bring.

Techniker Krankenkasse states in their table that there are no chances for “bad surprises” in public health insurance in terms of stability of coverage. Considering the fact that the German social code dropped payments for medication, certain treatments & rehab, glasses, etc over the last decades – we are not sure how much worse public health insurance coverage has to become for TK to consider this a “bad surprise”.

As private health insurance is a private contract between the insured person and their health insurance company, you can choose the benefits and the coverage that you would like to have almost freely. All benefits that you do choose, are guaranteed as long as you are insured in this private health insurance plan and cannot get lowered by the insurance company of the German social code.

Medical bills: People insured in the public health insurance system usually don’t pay for treatment as most are paid with the insurance card. Treatments or medication that are not covered by the public health insurance system have to be paid by the patient himself and there is no way that his public health insurance will cover these expenses (Additive insurances necessary like dental or hospital additive).

Privately insured people get medical bills directly and can choose what to do with that invoice: Either pay themselves or send it to their private health insurance so they pay for the medical bill (most of the time with a mobile app). When paying for medical bills yourself, you will be eligible for a cashback in many German health insurances, meaning you will get a percentage of your private health insurance premium back.

How To Get Private Health Insurance?

Private health insurance companies will ask you at least health questions about your medical history in the last 5-10 years when applying for any private health insurance plan. When you come to Germany and have never been insured in any German health insurance system before, private health insurance companies might even send you to a doctor and a dentist for a health check.

As determined earlier, private health insurance premiums are calculated individually and people with a higher risk (given their medical history) therefore have to pay a higher premium. Private health insurance is asking for the risk before insuring you just like any other insurance does (liability insurance, disability income insurance, household insurance, etc).

Does that mean that people with preconditions cannot get into the private health insurance system because their risk is too high? Yes, that is unfortunately true. But if private health insurance companies would insure absolutely everybody, premiums would explode as all privately insured people would have to pay for the increased risk.

So get private health insurance as early as possible if you are interested and eligible to exit from the public health insurance system. If we can help you in selecting the right private health insurance plan that is best for your personal situation, feel free to book a free meeting with us right here.

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