Health insurance for the foreign countries: sick on vacation

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Whether heat stroke on the beach, leg break when hiking or exotic virus infections: The list of injuries that can really spoil the best time of the year, is long. But diseases on holiday are not only annoying, they can also quickly become very expensive.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Health insurance abroad

Those who have statutory or private health insurance in Germany are usually also insured in most European countries. The health insurances issue the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

But beware: the EHIC is only with restrictions. Normally, only what is reimbursed in the respective country for the insured citizens is refunded - and that is often less than in Germany. For example, some medicines, dental treatment or emergency transport by helicopter from the ski slope to the nearest hospital are not reimbursed. At costs up to 1.000 Euro, the health insurance in Germany can optionally settle according to German rates, at higher costs but always apply the foreign regulations. Even expensive repatriations from the resort home take over the health insurance companies.

Insurance worldwide?

People traveling to countries outside the EU almost always have no insurance coverage over the normal health insurance. Exceptions are countries that have a social security agreement with Germany - including Japan, China, Australia, the United States of Canada. Here, however, the patient has to be content with the public utilities and often modest care services, which are usually considerably below the German standards.

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Remedies in all cases a private health insurance abroad - and that is usually already available for a few euros a year. shows who needs it, what it costs and what matters when it comes to completion.

Who needs special health insurance for abroad?

An additional health insurance is reasonable due to the low cost of all statutory health insurance, traveling abroad. As a privately insured person, you should inquire with your company before traveling abroad if they would reimburse a return transport.

Most do, but not all. If you want to find out in advance which services your normal health insurance covers for your travel destination, you should take a look at the fact sheets provided by the German Liaison Office for Health Insurance - Abroad (DVKA) for different countries. Here is listed depending on the country, which benefits are included in the normal insurance coverage and which additional payments are due. If the insurance cover is too low for you, you should take out additional insurance.

What does the international health insurance cost?

Stiftung Warentest tested 2008 43 insurances for price and performance in May: Debeka offers the best contract conditions at the lowest price for individuals for six euros a year, and the insurance covers 70 Reistage. If you want to stay away for longer, you pay the least for travel health insurance when traveling 90 days at Concordia with 77 Euro. Huk-Coburg is best suited for families. The tariff with the best terms and conditions here costs 19,50 Euro per year. Older travelers have to pay more for some insurances - for example with the LMV from 60 years 15 and from 75 years 30 Euro per year. And: Some rates are available only to members of certain health insurance companies.

Other insurance is so cheap because of the co-pays. Example: If a deductible has been agreed by 50 Euro, the first 50 Euro will not be reimbursed for all settlements.

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Which services are included?

An additional health insurance is primarily for emergencies and usually pays for outpatient and inpatient treatment (including x-rays and surgeries), prescribed medications, dressings and painkillers, simple dental fillings or dentures repairs. Also included are transport to the nearest hospital or emergency doctor, as well as medical services, material, accommodation and meals during hospitalization. Also, a return home is covered, if it has been prescribed by the doctor. Insurance companies with very good rates pay for the transport from the holiday country even if it is reasonable and justifiable or the treatment takes longer than 14 days - and not only for medical necessity.

If the insured dies during the journey, most take over Company the cost of transferring or burying the deceased abroad (usually up to 10 000 Euro, but this may vary according to insurance contract). In addition, many insurers help in special situations - for example, if the insured does not receive a drug abroad or loses important documents.

What is the foreign health insurance not?

However, a health insurance is not an all-inclusive package. If you turn down a tooth in an accident, only the costs of pain-relieving dental treatments, simple fillings and repairs of dentures are covered, but not for the dentures themselves. Because the cost of this should take over the insurance at home. Also psychotherapies, preventive or withdrawal treatments are not paid, as well as the cost of cures, massages or aids such as glasses and hearing aids.

The insurance does not pay even if the treatment was planned abroad from the outset. Therefore, pay attention to small print, so that important insurance can not be excluded.

How does that work with the billing?

You first pay for minor treatments abroad yourself. The money is returned to you by the insurer. For larger treatments, the insurer settles the payment directly with the doctor or the clinic. In EU countries, some foreign health insurance also requires that you settle the treatment in first with your normal health insurance.

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Only after this billing, the documents can be submitted to the travel health insurance to reimburse the difference. Other insurances, on the other hand, pay off with the normal health insurance, which saves you the hassle.

additional services

In any case, save the invoice and all written information on diagnosis and therapy. The medical bills should always include the date of invoice, the name and address of the doctor or clinic, the name and surname, the date of birth of the person treated, the diagnosis and the individual medical services and their data. In addition, the payment should be confirmed. Recipes must include the name and address of the exhibitor, the prescribed medication, prices, receipts and the name of the person treated. In dental procedures, the treated teeth must be clearly labeled and also what has been treated on them.

If the data is incomplete, the bills may not be recognized - even by the normal German health insurance. You then have to work from Germany to correct the bills, which can be difficult. Also a sticking point: The insurance may require a translation of the bill by a sworn translator or interpreter. This can cause additional costs and is often not worthwhile with smaller insurance contributions. Therefore, pay attention to corresponding clauses in the contract.

How long is the insurance?

Although you are covering a foreign health insurance for a year, but the insurance is valid in reality only for a limited period within this year, so depending on the contract for 30, 42 or 70 days per trip.

You can then travel as often as you like, but not for any length of time. If you plan a longer stay abroad, you need a special insurance that is significantly expensive: For a travel period of 180 days, the cost can also be several hundred euros. If you go abroad for a whole year, depending on your age, you can pay between 500 and 3000 Euro.

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Doctor's Choice - but right!

Make sure you confirm the free choice of doctor with your insurance. Because of course it is convenient if the doctor speaks German locally. Unfortunately, German-speaking private doctors have often settled at popular holiday destinations and are happy to pay too much.

Therefore, ask in advance for the treatment costs and make sure that the bill is not excessive. If necessary, ask the insurer's hotline to see if the costs are fully covered or if you can recommend a cheaper local doctor.

Switching insurance is worthwhile

Most insurance contracts are automatically extended by one year if they are not terminated. Maybe that's why you have your old contract. Often the tariffs have become better, then it is worth a change. For many insurance companies, however, you have to accept a notice period of three months. If the deadline is at the end of the year, the change is no longer possible this summer.

Depending on the tariff, however, the date of the conclusion of the contract can also be decisive. For example, if you have taken out a travel health insurance policy in the middle of November last year, you can switch to another provider until mid-August.

ability to travel

If there are pre-existing conditions, it can happen that the insurance does not pay. Therefore, it may be useful for elderly travelers or people with pre-existing conditions to be confirmed before the holiday of a doctor's ability to travel in writing. On the other hand, if you are chronically ill, many private insurance companies will not cover your treatment abroad.

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Please inform your health insurance company before your trip that you will not receive any private insurance coverage for a particular disease. The cost of such a treatment then takes over the health insurance - even in countries that do not belong to the European Union or with which Germany has no social security agreement. However, the treatment costs are reimbursed up to the usual amounts in Germany, and this only for up to six weeks. Let the health insurance company confirm in advance what the costs are.

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