Man using the TK App

TK for Employees

Techniker Krankenkasse is one of Germany's most popular health insurers, and is a great option for residents arriving from abroad. In many cases, new arrivals will slot into paid employment very quickly, and their health insurance will reflect that situation.

To make life easier for employees, TK has created plans and online tools that let policyholders calculate contributions and manage essentials like sick pay. Let's take a look at how the system works for employees, and what's available for TK customers.

Contribution Calculator

Contribution rates vary for all TK policy holders, depending on medical factors, their age, and their personal income

The basic contribution rate for TK customers is 15.3% of income. 0.7% of that forms a supplementary rate for TK customers.

The "general contribution" as required by German law is 14.6%, half of which is paid by employers. So employees should have to pay a minimum of 8%.

However, there are some variations. Self-employed individuals pay a reduced basic rate of 14%, so their contribution will add up to 7.7% with the TK supplementary contribution included.

Retired individuals also use the same system, but instead of an employer covering half of their insurance costs, the German state covers half of the bill.

Additionally, all TK insurance customers must pay a Pflegeversicherung (nursing contribution). This is always smaller than your monthly health insurance contribution, and varies depending on whether individuals have children. It's used by the state to fund long term care, generally for the elderly, and is also shared between employers and employees.

How to calculate your contribution rate

Questions range from your monthly income, to whether you have dependents, or how old you are. The whole process takes a minute or two to complee, and creates an easy to understand visualization of expected insurance costs (including the care charge).

However, it's not final. Insurance costs can be influenced by whether individuals have secondary income sources, such as rent, extra self-employment income, or pensions. Still, it's a good starting point.

Contribution calculation tool

To make it easier for customers to calculate their personal health insurance contributions, TK has created a contribution calculator tool, which is available at the company's website. This will lead users through a series of questions to achieve an estimate of their insurance costs (not a definitive total).

Sickness benefit for employees

If you are employed in Germany, you aren't simply entitled to a half-and-half insurance contribution from your employer

The system also provides sickness pay for those who are enrolled on health insurance programmes, allowing them to make up for time spend recovering from illness, or unexpected injuries.

How do I apply for sick pay at TK?

In return for relatively generous sick pay provisions, the German state requires workers to be diligent when reporting illnesses, and they will need to provide proof from a registered medical practitioner before benefits can be paid.

To receive sick pay, TK customers must obtain a Statement of Fitness to Work (or Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung) from their doctor. This document basically informs TK the nature of your medical problems, and how long you are likely to be away from work.

The part of your statement labeled Ausfertigung zur Vorlage bei der Krankenkasse must then be sent to TK at the insurer's Hamburg HQ: Techniker Krankenkasse, 20908 Hamburg. After that, the sick pay process should kick into gear.

What sick benefits can I claim?

In Germany, the primary sickness benefit takes the form of sick pay. This provides a replacement of the worker's income over a set period, with contributions from their employer, the state, and their insurer all playing a part. Sickness benefits are calculated for each individual condition, not general ill health. For each condition, workers can claim for 78 weeks over a 3 year period.

Sickness benefits

There are other sickness benefits for residents. For instance, sick pay can also be provided if employees need to attend appointments for sick dependents. This amounts to 10 days per year for each sick child, and 25 in total, and these numbers are doubled for single parents.

There is also a provision known as the Pflegezeitgesetz. This entitles employees to take 10 days of unpaid sick leave per year to care for sick relatives, and this can be extended to as long as 6 months in companies with more than 15 workers.

How much do you get in sick pay?

As a rule, German workers are entitled to as much as 100% of their salary for a 6 week period. 80% of this is provided by the state, and 20% by employers (if companies employ under 30 people). After 6 weeks, health insurers take up the slack, providing 70% of salary for as long as 78 weeks.

I have more than one job - what should I consider?

It doesn't matter how many jobs you work, under German law, your employer is responsible for contributing to health insurance costs & sick pay

As long as you have been employed for over 4 weeks by a particular employer, you have the same rights to paid sick leave.

In Germany, there is no discrimination between full-time workers and part-time workers or those on short-term contracts. Every worker is covered by the same set of statutory rights, which includes 6 weeks of paid sick leave when they require it.

TK covers many people with more than one employer. If you are employed under a normal contract, you will have to pay half of your health insurance costs, just as a person with a single job would.

Self-employed individuals are liable for the full costs of their health insurance (although discounts may apply). In that case, there may be benefits to seeking contracted positions instead of freelance work.

If you are confident that you won't need much sick leave, self-employment can work out cheaper, but if extensive sick pay is needed, you will be liable for most of the costs, so it isn't always the best option.

Cost advantage

Recent changes to German law have reduced the base rates charged by Krankenkassen to self-employed individuals. So there may now be a cost benefit to remaining self-employed.

TK App and Online Services for employees

As you'd expect from a country as focused on efficiency as Germany, TK policy holders have numerous tools at their disposal to use when applying for sick pay

While customers are free to send physical copies of their Statement of Fitness to Work to TK's head office, the company's app offers a better way to get the paperwork done.

Users can download the app for Android and iOS phones, and upload documents onto their TK account - a much faster, less cumbersome way to apply for sick pay.

Additionally, TK's Appointments Service makes it easier to arrange initial doctors' appointments that are an essential first step in securing sick pay. This can be carried out online via the app, and English language support is provided. When you need to explain complex symptoms and understand diagnoses, this can be very useful.

Finally, don't forget the online contributions calculator that we introduced earlier. It's an invaluable first stop to consult when choosing the right health insurer.

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