18 Dec German bureaucracy, part 2 …where is that loophole?
We are on the hunt for insurance. Sounds easy, but it comes with a catch!
After being told that our insurance is not good enough to apply for a permission to stay in Germany, we head out to the local government-run insurance office. We talk to the person behind the desk who is responsible for handling voluntary, self-paid health insurance. We tell him our situation and he looks us up in his computer. To our surprise, we are still in the system from when we had coverage 16 years ago, when we lived and worked here. It’s actually a little scary to be reminded how much information is being kept on file! There’s still our old German address, our old work addresses etc. We tell him our new address, and our new situation. He hands us an application and since there are a few confusing questions, he helps us fill it out.
Again, we remind him that the address on the pre-printed application is old and wrong, we cross it out and write the new address over the line…let’s see how long it takes to get new info into the system!
On the second page of the application we find a question that startles us: are you a citizen or do you have a ‘permission to stay’?
Hmm, well, we’d like to get a ‘permission to stay’ very much! But we need the insurance to get it!
Except we can’t get the insurance without the ‘permission to stay’!
Is this a joke!? Who the heck comes up with these rules? If you do not want anybody to come or stay in your country, just say so! After reading the question over again I start feeling like the dog that runs in circles, trying to catch its own tail. Obviously, trying to ‘find the loophole’ must be an action that originated out of necessity while dealing with German bureaucracy.
Sensing our frustration, the young man assures us, that it would be OK just to write in that we have already applied for the ‘permission to stay’, and that there should be no problem with getting the insurance. Well, he should know…after all, this is his job!
Once the form is completely filled out, he sends us off by telling us that we should hear something back in two weeks, unless there is more info needed, in which case we’d be contacted within the next two days.
A few days go by, so far so good! We let Herr ‘S’ from immigrations know what we are doing and everything seems OK…so far.
Two weeks go by and we still hear nothing back from the insurance. I call the young man who helped us, just to find out that the application is now at the main office in a different town and to call there. He has nothing to do with it anymore. Hmm, how nice!
So I call the main office and speak to Herr ‘H’.
Herr ‘H’ asks for our names and after a few minutes he informs me, that nobody with our names can be found in the computer.
What!? Two weeks ago everybody was finding our names, addresses, and entire history just by clicking a couple of keystrokes on their computer. Now, we do not exist?
Just before I could let out a few choice words he happily blurbs out:”Oh, here you are! Do you live on …?”
Hm, maybe I should still keep some of those choice words readily available in mind, but I reply politely: ” No that is our old address, from years ago. Can you please change it, and try to do a better job than the last two people who attempted that task?”
After hopefully getting the address corrected for good, I am told that the insurance is still waiting on a form from immigrations and that I should hear something back in another week.
One more week goes by and still no letter in the mailbox.
I call back and again I get the same answer from Herr ‘H’: “We are still waiting on immigrations”.
Ready to get to the bottom of this, I call immigrations. I am told they have spoken in person to the insurance lady and have sent all the information a week ago…Wait, did I hear that right? Insurance Lady!?
I get the name and number of the lady, and call Frau ‘M’.
She tells me nonchalant: “You were denied, we already talked to immigrations and sent you a letter a few days ago. Since you are not a citizen nor have a permission to stay, but are obligated by law to have insurance to stay in the country we are legally not allowed to sell you government health insurance”
Huh? Is that supposed to make sense? But all I could ask was “What address did you use?”
I should have known, after all I am dealing with the government..yet, I still insist on her correcting the address (for the 3rd time), not that it would change the outcome but by now I was just curious, whether it could actually be done.
Extremely ticked off to have wasted over three weeks to buy an insurance that we legally can not obtain, I find out I have to buy private insurance (one would think that this denial should have only taken 30 minutes to figure out).
Annoyed, I call immigrations, to see whether they might actually have a list of acceptable health insurance companies. Unfortunately, they are legally not allowed to give me any advise in that matter.
Wouldn’t it be nice for the government to actually have a law, that holds the government responsible and work for the people? Instead of legally making the people’s life more complicated?
Alright, there is no time to dwell on government bureaucracy!
Time to check out private insurances!