Health Insurance in Germany

Health Insurance in GermanyGermany requires all expats in Germany to have health insurance, including international students, guest researchers, and language course students.

Proof of health insurance is an important requirement during your student visa application and university enrollment process.

Most international students in Germany enrolled in a degree program are eligible to obtain low-cost public insurance.

Here are the health insurance types available for foreigners in Germany:

  • Health Insurance for International Students in Germany
  • Health Insurance for Language Course Students in Germany
  • Health Insurance for Studienkolleg Students in Germany
  • Health Insurance for Exchange Students in Germany
  • Health Insurance for Guest Scientists & Researchers in Germany
  • Health Insurance for Foreign Ph.D. students in Germany

A Brief Intro Into the German Healthcare System

The German healthcare system in Germany is divided into two types.

  • Public (statutory) health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung – GKV)
  • Private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung – PKV)

All legal residents in Germany are required by law to take out health insurance. Whether you are an employee, family member, student, trainee, intern, jobseeker, or refugee, you must have health insurance.

Residents in Germany can choose from three options when it comes to health insurance:

  • Public Health Insurance (GVK)
  • Private Health Insurance
  • Public and Private Health Insurance Combination

Regarding which type of insurance you can get, eligibility will depend on numerous factors, such as age, income, and status (i.e., whether you’re a student, intern, employee, etc.). More on this below.

What matters is that if you need medical treatment while in Germany, you will receive it. Health insurance covers all urgent medical treatments.

Public Health Insurance in Germany (GKV)

Public health insurance in Germany, also known as Government Health Insurance, is Germany’s most common health insurance system. Around 90% of German residents use this health insurance scheme. There are 97 public health insurance companies in Germany.

Who Can Get Public Health Insurance in Germany?

The following category of individuals can get public (statutory) health insurance in Germany:

  • Individuals earning less than €66,600/year. As of 2023, you must get a public health insurance membership if your gross salary is lower than €66,600 per year or €5,550 per month. If you earn more than this, you can choose to be a voluntary member of a public health insurance scheme.
  • Students under the age of 30. Degree students can take out public health insurance in Germany if they are under the age of 30.
  • Family members. Spouses, children, or registered dependents can also be in a public (statutory) health insurance scheme through family insurance if one adult is insured in public health insurance.

How Much Does Public Health Insurance in Germany Cost?

Public health insurance companies (Krankenkassen) in Germany charge a basic rate of 14.6% plus a possible average additional rate of 1.3% of your gross income. For employees, this percentage is divided into equal parts employer/employee, meaning both of you pay 7.3% + half the additional contribution rate.

Note: Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced that health insurance companies will be allowed to increase their additional contribution rates by 0.3% starting January 2023 to a maximum of 1.6% from the current rate of 1.3%.

 

What Does Public Health Insurance in Germany Cover?

Public (statutory) health insurance in Germany covers doctor’s appointments, in-hospital treatment, outpatient services, prescribed medication, surgery, maternity services, surgery, and basic dental care.

Generally, all statutory health insurance companies (krankenkassen) in Germany offer around 95% of the same benefits, regardless of the premium amount. The main difference between public health insurance companies in Germany lies in the services they offer.

Patients are also expected to make small payments (zuzahlungen), such as:

  • 10% of prescription costs (minimum €5 and maximum of €10).
  • €10/day for hospital stays (up to a maximum of 28 days/year).

How To Get Public Health Insurance in Germany?

Your employer will usually register you with a health insurance company in Germany. If you are not employed, you must contact a public health insurance company and register.

Here are the top public (statutory) health insurance companies in Germany you can choose from:

  • AOK Baden Württemberg
  • KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse
  • DAK
  • Barmer

After getting your membership, you will receive a health insurance card, which you can use when you visit a doctor. Medical costs for the treatment will be settled directly with the health insurance company, meaning you will not have to pay for anything.

German Public Health Insurance Companies

Techniker Krankenkasse

Techniker Krankenkasse is a strong nationwide community. It is Germany’s major social health insurance fund, with over 8.8 million insurers. The number of insurers continues to increase since approx. 2,000 people take out insurance with TK each day. You can rely on TK – as a modern service provider and with the backing of a big social health insurance fund. What does that mean for you? Great benefits, expert advice and customer service tailored to your needs and interests.

AOK

For over 125 years, the AOK has guaranteed high-quality medical care for its insured members in the event of ill health. Around 24 million people are insured under the regional 11 AOKs – close to a third of the German population. More than 53,000 qualified AOK employees based in over 1,200 offices ensure that members receive all the services they require: quickly, competently and without bureaucracy.

BARMER GEK

BARMER GEK is one of the largest statutory health insurance providers in Germany. Over 8.6 million policyholders place their trust in us. Approximately 15.000 BARMER GEK staff in 800 branch offices show their commitment every day in their work so that our policyholders receive the best possible service. Preventive health care and the best possible treatments in the event of illness are crucial to the quality of life.

DAK-Gesundheit

One of the largest statutory health insurance companies in Germany, we give roughly 6.3 million people peace of mind when it comes to their health and cases of illness. You can handle a host of matters simply online at www.dak.de in a special data-protected area. On request, a DAK-Gesundheit advisor can come to you at home – or you can contact us via phone 24 hours a day. This includes both medical consultation and questions centred on DAK-Gesundheit’s offers. This comprehensive service is certified by TÜV (German Technical Inspection Agency) and has already been distinguished with several awards from consumer magazines.

KKH Kaufmännische Krankenkasse

The KKH Kaufmännische Krankenkasse is one of the largest national health insurance companies in Germany and one of the strongest institutions in statutory health insurance. When it comes to health, you are on the safe side with us. Your advantages:

  • You receive comprehensive health services like medicine cost absorption, choice of hospitals and fixed allowances for dental prosthesis, and exclusive additional services with added financial value.
  • We take care of everything when it comes to your health so that you can focus on your studies.
  • Exclusive additional services: With our Plus Young-Tariff, you receive a bonus from us of up to €100 per year.

What is a Voluntary Public Health Insurance?

Civil servants, self-employed individuals, freelancers, and employees who earn more than  €64,350/year can choose private insurance or decide to still be insured under public health insurance schemes voluntarily.

In such cases, private health insurance may be a cheaper option.

Private Health Insurance in Germany (PKV)

Private health insurance in Germany (PKV) covers the remaining 10% of the population in Germany. There are around 41 private health insurance companies in Germany.

Private health insurance plans are more comprehensive in terms of coverage because they have more benefits than statutory health insurance, including major dental work.

Who Can Get Private Health Insurance in Germany?

The following categories need private health insurance in Germany:

  • Individuals earning more than €66,660/year. Persons earning more than €66,660/year or €5,550 per month can get private health insurance in Germany. They still can opt-in for voluntary public health insurance, but private plans can be more budget-friendly. Visit the Feather website for an offer with the most flexible coverage to match your lifestyle with different plans and add-ons.
  • Self-employed and freelancers. If you belong to this category, you need private health insurance. You can still opt-in for voluntary public health insurance, but a private health insurance policy can be more affordable. Check Feather Insurance for a fully digital application with policy management and support in English.
  • Preparatory or language students. If you are not yet enrolled in a degree program in Germany, you need private health insurance in Germany. Provisit Educare24 by DR-WALTER has excellent, affordable plans if you belong to this category.
  • Students over 30 years of age. You need a private health insurance plan as a student over 30. We recommend Provisit Student. It offers excellent benefits at an affordable price.
  • Guest scientists and scholarship holders without an employment contract. You need private health insurance if you belong to this category. Don’t worry; some affordable plans are out there, such as Provisit Science by DR-WALTER for as little as €79 per month, made specifically for people like you.

How Much Does Private Health Insurance in Germany Cost?

Private health insurance costs in Germany can range from €150 to €1,500 per month.

There is no set cost for private health insurance in Germany. Unlike public health insurance, where the cost depends on your income, the cost of private health insurance in Germany depends on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Health status
  • Occupation
  • Additional services
  • The deductible (the amount you pay before your health insurance starts to pay).

Generally, young and healthy individuals will pay less for private health insurance.

What Does Private Health Insurance in Germany Cover?

Private health insurance in Germany usually covers more than public health insurance.

Private health insurance benefits are more comprehensive, meaning you will be covered for services like major dental work or private hospitals. You may also have shorter waiting times to receive services from specialists or be accommodated in single or double rooms.

How To Get Private Health Insurance in Germany?

To get this type of insurance in Germany, you must contact a private health insurance company. If you are employed, you must inform your employer you would rather go with a private health insurance company. You must inform your public health insurance company if you are already enrolled in a public health insurance scheme.

Since there are over 40 private health insurance companies in Germany, it may be difficult to decide.

Some of the best private health insurance companies in Germany are:

  • DR-WALTER
  • AXA
  • HanseMerkur
  • Allianz
  • DKV
  • Mawista

Public and Private Health Insurance Combination

If you already have public health insurance but want more benefits, you can choose additional private insurance to supplement your existing plan. It will cost more, but you will receive coverage for services like additional dental or private hospital treatment if that is what you wish.

How to Find a Doctor in Germany?

If you do not know where to begin your doctor search, you can start with The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Germany (). You can also get a list from your insurance provider or your local embassy in Germany.

Remember that if you are insured by public health insurance, you must search for doctors who treat all types of health insurance patients. You will want a doctor known as “Kassenarzt.” Some doctors will only treat privately insured patients.

Which is Better: Public or Private Insurance in Germany?

In terms of coverage, private health insurance in Germany has more benefits. Privately insured individuals can receive better and quicker services. However, with public insurance, you do not need to pay medical bills in advance. You use your insurance card to process payment. And you do not need to pay extra for coverage on pre-existing conditions, unlike private health insurance.

More people in Germany are covered by public health insurance (90%) compared to private health insurance (10%). This is not necessarily because public health insurance is better but because private companies have stricter criteria.

Both types of health insurance have their pros and cons. Of course, when it comes to health insurance, the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages.

Here are a few pros and cons to give you a bit of perspective:

Pros & Cons of Public Health Insurance in Germany

Pros Cons
Cost is based on your income, which means if you do not earn a lot, you will pay less for health insurance. Fees can be higher if you earn more.
Your family members are automatically covered for as long as the spouse meets income requirements and the children are up to a certain age. You may have to wait longer times for an appointment.
You do not need to pay extra for pre-existing conditions. You cannot customize your plan according to your specific needs.

Pros & Cons of Private Health Insurance in Germany

Pros Cons
You receive better service, such as quicker appointments or private hospital rooms. You have to pay extra if you want to cover family members.
You can include additional coverage in your insurance plan. You pay your medical bills and then receive reimbursement.
You pay a fixed monthly amount regardless of your income (i.e., lower fees for high-income earners). You may have to pay higher contributions for pre-existing conditions.

Public Health Insurance Coverage

Does Public Health Insurance Cover Pregnancy?

Public health insurance covers the services you need while pregnant (doctor’s visits, check-ups, ultrasound exams), childbirth, and postnatal care.

Private health insurance plans usually cover pregnancy services; however, you must ensure before registering with a provider since coverage may vary from company to company.

Does Public Health Insurance Cover Dental Treatment?

Public health insurance covers basic dental services such as check-ups, hygiene appointments, and fillings.

Private health insurance has additional dental coverage for major dental work, such as fitting crowns or dentures. So, getting additional dental coverage from private providers (if you have public health insurance) can save you money.

Does Public Health Insurance Cover Medication?

Health insurance in Germany covers prescription medication. If you have public health insurance, you must pay 10% of prescription costs (minimum €5 and maximum of €10).

If you have private health insurance, you must pay the medical bill yourself and ask for reimbursement later on.

Health insurance will not pay for non-prescription medications, including painkillers and flu medicine.

Does Public Insurance Cover Hospitalization?

Yes, it does. With public health insurance, you must pay €10 per day for a maximum of 28 days per year. Children under the age of 18 are excluded from this fee.

With private health insurance, you will be reimbursed for the hospitalization medical bills, depending on your agreed policy. In fact, having private health insurance allows you to ask for a private/double room, which is not the case with public health insurance.

Can I Use My European Health Insurance Card in Germany?

You can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are visiting Germany from the EU/EEA on a temporary basis (less than six months).

This card will give you access to state-provided healthcare in a foreign country within the EU, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. This means that if you fall ill during your temporary visit to that country, you will receive medical treatment with the same conditions and costs as the people in that country.

Do Refugees Have Access to Healthcare in Germany?

Yes! Refugees are eligible for healthcare in Germany. But there are a few factors to consider, such as the duration of your stay in Germany and your residence status.

For detailed information read Health Insurance for Refugees in Germany.