What does it mean to downgrade health insurance?

Health insurance comes in different coverage tiers. The first is private health insurance which provides the most comprehensive coverage in Germany. The second is public health insurance which provides standard coverage. The third is expat health insurance which covers the minimum required by law. The fourth is when someone has no health insurance coverage, which is illegal in Germany.

To downgrade means that you’re going from private to public health insurance, from public to expat health insurance, or from public to no health insurance.

Important information: downgrading your coverage can result in serious negative consequences for you in the future. We not only strongly recommend not doing this, but we also cannot help customers who wish to downgrade.

If you want to downgrade your coverage, you will need to speak to your current health insurance provider.

When can someone downgrade their insurance?

This is rarely possible because of Germany’s strict health insurance rules. It’s possible, but not certain, that you can downgrade from public health insurance if you’re fired and your health insurance provider accepts expat health insurance as an alternative or another limited health insurance contract.

This is incredibly unlikely to happen because your alternative insurance will be reviewed by your current health insurance provider.

What happens if I downgrade?

First, even if you can downgrade from public health insurance to expat or no health insurance, you might be setting yourself up for big problems in the future. If you’re switching to expat health insurance, you might have problems keeping your insurance since there is a 5-year limit. Expat health insurance is also unsuitable for anyone considering renewing their visa.

Let’s say you downgraded your insurance coverage to expat or no health insurance. If you end up getting back on public health insurance, you might be required to pay back payments.

What are health insurance back payments?

Back payments for health insurance are required when you are either uninsured, or public health insurance refuses to accept the insurance you had while living and working in Germany. This means you’ll need to pay for public health insurance during the time you were considered uninsured in Germany, which can get pretty expensive.

Want to learn more about back payment? See the full article on our blog.

I want to pay less for health insurance. What can I do?

You can switch to private health insurance. Some people won’t qualify because of their income, but the plan’s price is based on your health and age at sign up. If you’re young, super healthy, and you rarely go to the doctor, you’ll most likely end up paying less for your insurance. You can also opt for a “light” plan with less coverage that also allows you to save money.

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