Compulsory coverage for your stay in Germany
In Germany, health insurance is compulsory! Therefore, purchasing health insurance is one of the key requirements for students, language students and expatriates who are applying for a German visa and enrolling in a university or starting a job. In fact, it’s a central part of German life in general – ensuring that all citizens and residents from overseas can access medical care when needed, and remain healthy.
For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, health insurance involves making regular payments to an institution that then connect the insured person with doctors, hospitals, or other health professionals. These institution will cover the cost of the treatments required. Generally speaking, the most basic health needs will be covered, although supplementary fees can sometimes apply for other services like cosmetic surgery.
The German health insurance system is divided into two main sectors:
1. public health insurance funds
2. private health insurance companies
If foreigners are applying to start a Bachelor, Master, PhD, preparatory course, or even a working-visa, obtaining health insurance is a key aspect of the visa application. The same goes for guest academics or exchange students. Everyone needs to be covered as health insurance is mandatory in Germany.
Health insurance needs to be arranged before a visa is granted, but there are different types of health insurance. Let us help you demystifying the difference between Travel Health Insurance, Public Health Insurance and Private Health Insurance.
Before doing anything, applicants should contact their embassy handling the visa application and also the host institution (e.g. university, language school, employer) to double-check which form of insurance is required and advised.
All the above mentioned insurances can be concluded online with assistance companies like Expatrio, Fintiba, and Coracle. They also help you to make sure that you secure the right insurance depending on your status, arrival date and start date of your university, language school or job. If you follow the process, you have a good companion for a successful visa application and a seamless start in Germany. Read on for more details.
There are different types of profession that have to be taken into account when answering the question which health insurance to obtain. The professions are:
As a university student, be it bachelor or master, it is likely that you’ll be dealing with public insurers, which are relied upon by most of German students. A public health insurance fund is also called “Krankenkasse” or “Gesetzliche Krankenkasse” which translates to governmental health insurance fund. There are 108 of these bodies across Germany. However, only a few of these organisations can be advised for students. In a public health insurance fund you won’t be insured alone, but among all other insured persons in Germany and that is exactly what makes the collective of a public health insurance strong as it is a solidary community. There is also the possibility to get insured in a private health insurance. For this matter, DeGiS has a group contract with Care Concept in place (red below).
As a language school student your situation is different, as you are not eligible for the public health insurance, so you need to conclude a private one. For Studienkolleg students the situation is the same.
For Scholarship holders, PhDs, and self-funded Guest Scientists the situation again might be different and needs deeper explanation.
If you are coming to Germany as an employee, you are likely to be insured in the public health insurance and your employer will contribute roughly a half of your insurance premium. If you are earning above a certain threshold you are eligible for the private. health insurance.
As you can see, there are many different situations to take into account, but we will help. you getting your way through the jungle. As introduced above, in Germany, there’s no way to avoid being insured in some form of health insurance. Following a 2007 law, everyone who is a permanent or temporary resident in Germany must ensure that they possess a health insurance policy. EU residents might ask for recognition of their European health insurance, but non-European are obliged to conclude a German health insurance, be it public or private.
The system of the public health insurance funds isn’t cheap to run, but it is efficient and caters to individual requirements very well. Every year, the German state spends approximately €4,500 per person on health provision. And the amount spent has been rising in recent times, owing to the demands of an aging population.
Some of the largest public health insurance providers include TK, BARMER, AOK, and DAK, all of which cater for students from other countries. And these are seriously large institutions. For instance, TK as the largest German health insurance fund serves over 10 million people – as much as the health services in many smaller countries. TK has also been rated “Germany’s best Health Insurance Fund” and “Best Health Insurance for Students” by renowned Focus Money.
The scale of the large health insurance funds allow the insurers to build strong links to hospitals, gyms, holistic healthcare companies, drug manufacturers, doctors and so on. But they also manage to offer a wide range of packages to suit the diverse requirements of modern customers. Let’s look in a little more detail about the kinds of packages students will encounter, how to take out a health insurance policy, and how this fits into the wider student experience.
For employees, there is a certain contribution to the public health insurance which will automatically be deducted by the employer and paid to the insurance fund. Also the employer pays a share of the contribution, usually it is roughly 50/50. For students it is a bit different. There is a public health insurance for students, which is a beneficial tariff that is available under certain conditions, e.g. the students has to below 30 years of age. The contributions are roughly the same, but still they differ slightly which leads – when adding – up to a significant difference. You can read more about that in our guide for University students.
As mentioned above, there are two different categories of private health insurances.
DeGiS recommends to take out a private health insurance which falls in the category of travel health insurances only for a stay of up to 90 days. Exemplary providers are DR-Walter, Care Concept and Mawista.
DR-WALTER (tariff: Educare)
Care Concept (tariff: College)
Mawista (tariff: Science)
For a stay of more than 90 days, DeGiS recommends to conclude a so called substitutive private health insurance. Only few providers tailor their offerings to international students. One of these providers is Care Concept. You might wonder that you have read about Care Concepts already above – many insurances have different tariffs, which is particularly true for Care Concept as they have developed a substitutive coverage next to their travel insurance offerings as listed above. You can get more information about Care Student here: Care Concept – Care Student substitutive private health insurance
Don’t forget to utilize online communities that can give friendly advice and support for those wishing to study abroad. Applying for health insurance isn’t complex, but it is usually essential. So take care, and find a policy that matches your needs.