Care benefits available from statutory health insurance providers
Anyone who, due to a serious illness or after being in hospital, is unable to take care of themselves for a short time qualify for health insurance cover for support in their home, for a short stay in a care facility, or for transitional care in hospital.
At a glance
- Various benefits become relevant when someone needs care support and help in their home on a temporary basis only.
- These include home nursing, home help, short-term care in a care facility, and transitional care in hospital.
- Statutory health insurance providers cover the cost of these support services.
- These benefits are available to help people who are not entitled to long-term care insurance benefits or do not qualify for care grade 1 or higher.
When does the health insurance provider cover the cost of care and support services?
If someone needs care support or help at home for a short time for health reasons, they can apply to their statutory health insurance provider to cover the cost. This may happen, for example, if an illness becomes severe or when someone has had a recent operation. Medical treatment in a hospital is not always necessary in these cases, but support at home is.
People in these situations are often not entitled to long-term care insurance benefits to cover this type of short-term care support. That’s because long-term care insurance benefits only apply if the need for care is likely to last for at least six months.
The following health insurance provider benefits can help in these situations:
- support in the form of home nursing
- support in the form of home help
- short-term care with no care level
- transitional care
Insured persons usually need to cover some of the costs themselves. Gather all the paperwork. If the costs exceed your personal contribution limits, you may be released from your obligation to contribute to the cost. Sometimes you can also include the costs as an extraordinary expense in your tax declaration.
You can find out how to be exempted from contributions on the consumer advice center website.
What does support in the form of home nursing involve?
Home nursing involves everyday care support. This includes post-treatment care (for example, changing wound dressings), basic care (such as help with personal hygiene), and household assistance (for example, shopping), where required. A maximum of 4 weeks of home nursing can be applied for per case of illness. This can be extended in exceptional cases, but only if the Medical Review Board recommends it.
The health insurance provider will only approve home nursing if there is nobody in the household who can provide the required amount of care.
The patient must themselves pay 10 euros per support service prescribed by a doctor, and a maximum of 10 percent of the total costs for home nursing. The contribution is limited to 28 days per year.
What does support in the form of home help involve?
Home help covers activities in the home that do not relate to care. They include, for example, washing of bedding, cleaning, shopping, and cooking. These activities are also known as household-related services. People can apply for home help for a maximum of 4 weeks per case of illness.
If there are children below the age of twelve, or children with a disability, who also depend on help in the household, home help can also provide support by taking care of the children. In these cases, the home help can be extended to a maximum of 26 weeks.
The health insurance provider will only approve home help if there is nobody in the household who can carry out the activities required to the extent needed.
The insurance holder must contribute 10 percent of the costs of home help each day, but a minimum of 5 euros and a maximum of 10 euros per day.
What does short-term care through statutory health insurance involve?
If home nursing or home help are not sufficient, the health insurance provider will cover the cost of a temporary stay in a residential care facility. The care, support and post-treatment care provided during a stay like this is subsidized to a maximum of 1,612 euros per year for 8 weeks at most. This figure will rise to 1,774 euros per year from 1 January 2022.
The health insurance provider will only approve short-term care if there is nobody in the household who can provide the care required to the extent needed.
Moreover, health insurance will also only subsidize short-term care in a residential care facility with a fixed sum. The patient themselves has to pay for all costs incurred above and beyond this, as well as the cost of accommodation and meals (also referred to as “hotel costs”).
What does transitional care involve?
If anyone, with or without a care level, needs further support immediately after hospital treatment, they can be looked after in that hospital for a maximum of a further 10 days. This applies to each individual hospital treatment.
This benefits covers accommodation, food, basic and post-treatment care, provision of medicines and aids, as well as medical treatment, where necessary.
The health insurance provider will only cover the cost of transitional care if care at home, short-term care, or medical rehabilitation are not possible or only possible with great difficulty.
Insured persons are required to contribute 10 euros per day for transitional care in hospital. The contribution is limited to 28 days per year.
How can I apply for temporary care benefits from my health insurance provider?
If you need temporary support for health reasons, contact the doctor who is treating you.
As these support services need to be applied for from the health insurance provider, they must be prescribed by a doctor. The prescription must indicate the diagnosis and impairments that are the reason why temporary support is needed, as well as the length of time for which it is required and the scope of the support involved.
Your health insurance provider can advise on possible entitlements to benefits and on how to proceed. The social service at the hospital can also provide assistance on request.
Where else can I get help?
Contact your doctor or your health insurance provide if you become aware that the benefits available for temporary care and the potential extensions of the periods for which they are available are inadequate in your case. It may also be a good idea to apply for a care level from the care insurance fund. The care fund will then check whether there is a need for care so that you can access the benefits available with long-term care insurance.
If your health insurance provider entitlements have been used up and you are in financial need, it may be possible to apply for help with care from the social welfare office.
You can get more information from the relevant social welfare office in your town or district.
If you need support as a result of a work accident, the accident insurance fund can also cover the costs of home nursing and care measures.
The German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) helpline will tell you who to contact in such cases. Phone: 0800 60 50 404.
- Bundesamt für Justiz. Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB) Fünftes Buch (V) - Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung. Aufgerufen am 17.08.2021.
- Bundesgesetzblatt. Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Gesundheitsversorgung. Aufgerufen am 17.08.2021.
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- Verbraucherzentrale. Zuzahlungen: Ihre Beteiligung an den verschiedenen Leistungen. Aufgerufen am 17.08.2021.