Health insurance is mandatory for everyone. Unfortunately paying this monthly fee doesn’t give us the guarantee that we will get the care we need as soon as we need it.
Most of the times I was really fed up to stand in a long line at 6 o’clock in the morning to get a number and then wait 4-5 hours till the doctor can receive me. This is how it works in Romania, if a person goes to the doctor’s public office.
So I soon started going to private offices, despite paying every month for that useless health insurance. Private doctors are expensive but at least I knew that I have an appointment, the doctor will spend enough time to examine me and I will receive the care I need to get better quickly.
I’m seldom sick and I wish it will stay this way. But paying for health insurance in this case is like money thrown out of the window. Even more so when going to private clinics instead of the public ones, which are covered by the health insurance.
When I came to Germany almost 4 years ago, I was still insured in Romania. I had to request the European Union emergency health insurance card every 6 months, although I didn’t know which costs it covers if I go to a doctor here in Germany. So I postponed my doctor visits until I traveled home and then visited the doctors in their private office there. It was still cheaper than possible being forced to pay an invoice from a German doctor because my Romanian insurance declined it.
Starting from February I’m working for a German company and I was extremely happy not having to worry about this anymore. I am still visiting one doctor in Romania every time I go home but that’s only because he’s handling my case for the past 5 years and knows me well. For all other problems (although I wasn’t sick yet) I will definitely go to the doctor’s office here.
AOK is one of the best German health insurance companies and I soon found out that the whole concept here is different than in Romania. While the Romanian health insurance belongs to the state and concentrates only on how to get more money but spend less, this AOK gets directly involved in keeping the people healthy by offering, among others, various sports opportunities such as programs, classes and events.
Summer is the bicycling season so from June to August I took part in the Mit dem Rad zur Arbeit (“Cycling to work”) campaign. The goal was to ride with the bike to work at least 20 days in these 3 months and at the end we could win lots of prizes. This is a fantastic motivation for people to do unconsciously more sports. You should have seen me in August after I returned from my 3 weeks holiday and I still had 9 more times to go. It didn’t matter anymore if it was raining or cold because I had to complete the challenge. I eventually didn’t win any of the big prizes but I actually think that I accomplished more, and namely keeping my health.
Autumn is the running season and today I happily discovered that AOK has started a new campaign, Laufend in Form (“Stay in shape by running”). I’m already going running once a week but with this program it’s going to be so much fun. Specialized trainers will plan my trainings, based on my personal condition which they will carefully evaluate from the answers I gave in the registration form. I can’t wait to start.
Abnehmen mit Genuss (“Lose weight with pleasure”) is a weight loss program exclusively for people insured at AOK. Per post, email or phone, psychologists and nutritionists provide tips and suggestions that are individually tailored while sports scientists create personal training programs and specialized exercise planners. Even though the entry fee is 49,90 Euro, AOK is committed to pay this sum back, if the person finishes the program. If our own health is perhaps not, but money is a always good reason not to give up.
Additionally AOK has contracts with various sport centers in every city and offers free of charge a wide variety of classes like Yoga, Pilates, back training, aqua aerobics, Nordic walking and much much more. I’m planning to join some.
Plus AOK connects the community by making it easy to find a workout buddy at AOK Sportpartner, or helps people stop smoking at Ich werde Nichtraucher (“I will become a non smoker”), or to stay stress-free at Stress im Griff (“Keep the stress under control”).
As you can see, AOK makes it smart. By doing sports, people stay healthy and the company saves money. It’s good for everybody.
I can only hope that countries like Romania will learn from companies like AOK and apply the same concept in the future. I know that this requires a big investment, which these countries can’t afford, but in the long run it will be a win-win situation for both the state and its citizens.
As for myself, I am very happy to be insured at AOK and I will take full advantage of these offers to stay fit and healthy, for myself and indirectly for AOK.