How To Keep Your Health Insurance Costs Low In Denmark
In order to keep your health insurance costs low in Denmark, you have two main options: either signing up with the Danish national health insurance scheme, or by shopping around for the best private health insurance plan for your treatment needs.Your most cost effective option will be to register with the national scheme, but this may not be possible given your employment situation or your medical needs, and you may also want to take out private cover for additional peace of mind.
Denmark has a two-tier healthcare insurance system, consisting of both public and private cover. Medical care in Denmark under the public system is free at the point of delivery, and it is of a high quality.
If you are an expat working in the country, you will be covered under the mandatory national system as long as you and your employer are paying contributions. Your children will be treated for free up to the age of 15. The state scheme covers:
• visits to your doctor
• hospital stays
• part of your medication
• basic dental care
• some alternative or complementary therapies
• some physiotherapy
• some psychiatric care
• some chiropractic care
If you do not have any form of insurance, you will still be entitled to free hospital treatment in the case of an emergency, although you may be expected to pay any costs covering further treatment.
Check the small print of any private policy to see whether it covers treatments that you may want to access, such as specialist treatment or more advanced dental care, for example crowns or dental implants.
Remember to check if your potential policy covers pre-existing conditions: the definition of this varies between insurers. Usually the term applies to any conditions which present symptoms or for which you’ve been treated in the last five years. This normally includes any conditions you were diagnosed with over five years ago, but some insurers have different time limits for diagnosis.
You may also want to check out whether your policy has a ‘hospitalisation’ clause covering you for occasional hospital visits. You may need to discuss this directly with your insurer.
Take a good look at any potential policy for any cover relating to healthcare which does not apply to you: some policies have provision for maternity care, for instance, and if you are not intending to become pregnant (or prefer to rely on the cover provided by the Danish maternity system), then you may wish to reduce your policy costs by having such options removed.
You may also be able to reduce the cost of your premium through ‘cost sharing’: this means that you and your insurer will share the costs of any treatment. You will pay up to an agreed limit, and your provider will cover the rest. Different insurers will have different ways of arranging cost sharing.
Co-pay: where you pay a fixed sum for your treatment and your insurer covers the rest. For instance, if the total cost of your treatment is €85, and your co-pay amount is set at €40, then you will pay €40 and your insurer will pay €45.
Co-insurance: where you pay a fixed percentage of the total cost and your insurer covers the rest. For instance, if your co-insurance is set at 20%, you will pay 20% of €85 and your insurer will cover the remaining 80%.
Deductibles: where you pay the entire amount allowed for all services provided until the deductible is met. For instance, if your policy has a €1,000 annual deductible, you would pay €85 for each visit to your GP. However, you would then have to pay the entire amount for 11 such visits (€1000/€85 = 11.8) before your insurance began to pay out to the doctor directly.
You may also need to take a look at whether there is an out-of-pocket maximum that you would be expected to pay after your deductible has been met.
Let’s say that your plan above, with a €1000 deductible, also has a co-insurance option of 20% and an out-of-pocket maximum of €1500. You will thus pay €85 for 11 visits to the doctor under your deductible until it is met. You will then pay €17 for each visit as your 20% coinsurance, until you reach the co-insurance ceiling of €500 (€1,500 minus the deductible of €1,000), or about 29 more visits (€500€17 = 29.4). At that point (40 total visits in a year), you would pay nothing more for the remainder of the plan year.
It’s worth doing the maths, especially if you don’t think that you’ll need to make more than a couple of visits to your GP in any one policy period. For example, if you just want dental check-ups with an occasional filling, it might be worth working out whether one or two out-of-pocket costs might be cheaper than full dental cover.
As so many variables have an effect on the cost of international private medical insurance in Denmark it becomes very difficult to give accurate estimates without knowing the full details of the coverage required.
However, as a very rough guide, using a standard profile of a 40-year-old British male with no deductibles, no co-insurance, a middle tier plan, all modules included and worldwide coverage excluding the US, a ballpark price of around £4,000/$5,000 per year might be expected. Were coverage to be expanded to include the US then the premium could increase to almost double that amount.
Note, however, that there are not a large number of private facilities in Denmark, and they are expensive if you’re not insured: ideally, you want to avoid large out-of-pocket costs. However, you may be eligible for Danish Group 2 insurance, which is a form of state health insurance and not technically private, but which will open up access to some of the system for you: it is a kind of halfway house.
Also check with your employer, as some companies will have group packages with private insurers which are available to employees and you may find that you are covered by your workplace.
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