Until when can I exchange?
If you don’t like to be organized too much, it is best to take out new health insurance before January 1, so no later than New Year’s Eve. Your new insurer will then ensure that your old insurance policy is cancelled. That’s the least hassle.
Would you like to think a little longer about your new insurer? In that case, you must have canceled your old insurance no later than 31 December. You then have until January 31 to find a new one. You will then be insured there, with retroactive effect from 1 January.
How much does it matter?
Switching insurers can save hundreds of euros per year. According to price comparator Independer, the cheapest basic insurance is 108.25 euros per month and the most expensive 145 euros. On an annual basis, that difference is 441 euros.
And that while the coverage of the basic insurance is in fact the same with every insurer. The basic insurance reimburses the most important care. Think of the general practitioner, specialist care in the hospital, ambulance transport, most medicines, a visit to a psychologist and a lot of other things.
However, not all basic insurance policies are the same. The biggest difference lies in the choice you have as a patient. So-called in-kind policies are cheaper, but then you cannot choose where you receive care. Your insurer has contracts with certain healthcare providers. If you want to be treated elsewhere, you often have to pay a part yourself.
The refund policy is often considerably more expensive, but it also gives you more freedom. You can choose where you purchase your care and the insurer pays the entire amount. As far as it falls under the basic coverage, of course.
Additional insurance: don’t pay too much, and don’t pay too little
Taking out basic insurance is mandatory. You can also take out additional insurance if you wish. For example for dental costs or physiotherapy. If you know in advance that your teeth are not so good or you are very prone to injury, then it is wise to take out such insurance. The extra insurance costs are then probably lower than the costs that you would otherwise have to pay for expensive treatments.
But you also quickly pay too much. An additional dental insurance, for example, will quickly cost you a tenner per month. If you don’t have cavities, insurance will likely be more expensive than your regular checkups. And if you do have problems, the insurance usually only covers part of the costs and up to a certain maximum amount. So do the math to see if it’s worth it.
It is in any case wise, if you have additional insurance, to check every year what is still covered by your additional package. Insurers sometimes want to reduce the number of treatments that you are reimbursed, or remove certain care from the supplementary insurance.
Higher deductible, lower premium
You can also lower your premium by raising your deductible, and thus run more financial risk yourself. Everyone has a mandatory deductible of 385 euros. This means that the first 385 euros in healthcare costs that you incur are for your own account. Only then will the basic insurance pay out. There are, however, a few exceptions to this. You do not pay a deductible for, for example, general practitioner care, maternity care and dental costs for minors.
You cannot lower your deductible, but you can voluntarily increase it. The disadvantage of this is that you have to pay more costs yourself if you need care. But there is also a premium discount. If you expect to need little care, you can save money with a higher deductible. Then you must have a financial buffer to absorb the blow if your gamble does not turn out well.
Full slap, marginal discount
For the real professional savers with enough money in the bank, there is another option to pay a little less, namely by paying the annual premium in one go. With most insurers, this results in a discount of 1 or 2 percent.
So that won’t get you a lot. At a premium of about 1500 euros per year, it saves you 15 to 30 euros.