Health insurance in Germany – Part 3: Differences in Coverage

As we continue our exploration of Germany’s dual health insurance system, we arrive at a crucial aspect that often sways individuals in their choice between Public Health Insurance (GKV) and Private Health Insurance (PKV): Differences in Coverage.


Understanding these differences is essential, as they directly affect the quality of healthcare you receive and the financial implications that come with it


Coverage in Public Health Insurance (GKV)

GKV, known for its wide accessibility and solidarity principle, offers a comprehensive coverage that is largely uniform across all insured individuals: one size fits all.


This includes:

  • Basic Medical Care: Full coverage of most general medical treatments, including visits to doctors, hospital stays, basic dental care, and essential medications.
  • Preventive Services: Regular check-ups and preventive measures are available but can be very limiting. GKV will only cover according to the legally prescribed guidelines.
  • Family Coverage: Spouses and children can be covered under the family insurance scheme at no additional cost (given that they do not have their own source of income).

However, GKV has limitations:

  • Limited Choice of Providers: Patients may have fewer options in choosing specialists or hospitals. You can be treated only by doctors with public health insurance approval.
  • Additional Payments: Certain medications, dental prosthetics, and special treatments might require co-payments.
  • No Private Room or Chief Physician Treatment in Hospitals: Standard care doesn’t include private hospital rooms or treatment by chief physicians

Always keep this in mind with GKV: if it is medically necessary, it is most probably covered. Everything that goes beyond that is usually not covered!


Coverage in Private Health Insurance (PKV)

PKV, on the other hand, is known for its customizable plans and often more extensive coverage.

 You are able to find a plan that fits your specific needs and it typically includes:


  • Customized Plans: Coverage can be tailored to individual needs, allowing for more comprehensive health services. You can choose what is important in your personal case and which deductible you prefer in your plan, which can reduce your costs significantly.
    monthly costs significantly
  • Broader Treatment Options: Access to a wider range of treatments, including alternative medicine, newer medical technologies, and more extensive dental care as well as shorter waiting times.
  • Choice of Providers: Freedom to choose doctors and specialists, often including access to chief physicians and private rooms in hospitals.
  • Refunds: If you are a healthy individual with little to none yearly doctor visits, you can choose plans with premium refunds to save even more costs in case you don’t use the insurance plan during the year.
Depending on the plan you select, the PKV covers many more options than the GKV.

The best part is that you get to choose how you want to be covered. The private insurance companies offer many different plans that cater to different individuals. You essentially have full control of the covered costs.

In the table below we have covered the main differences that you might find interesting for yourself:



The choice between GKV and PKV should primarily not only be a financial decision but also a matter of personal health needs and preferences. While GKV offers uniform coverage and usually cheaper family plans, the PKV provides more personalised options and broader coverage, with varying costs.


It’s crucial to weigh these differences against your individual situation, health needs, and financial capability. Remember, the right choice today can have a lasting impact on your future health and financial well-being.

Stay tuned for our next part where we will delve into the differences in premiums between GKV and PKV – a topic that directly hits the pocket!

Contact us for tailored advice or questions.

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