Health Insurance

Compulsory coverage for your stay in Germany

What is German Health Insurance about?

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.

German Healthcare System in a nutshell

The German health insurance system is divided into two main sectors:

1. public health insurance funds
2. private health insurance companies

German Health Insurance for visa application?

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.

  1. You need a Travel Health Insurance to be covered when entering Germany. This Travel Health Insurance has to be proven during the visa appointment and needs a validity of 183 days, for some German embassies even more. It is important that the Travel Health Insurance complies with an EU directive which sets the minimum standards.
  2. The Public Health Insurance is offered by governmentally organised institutions and taken out by most of the students and employees in Germany. It starts on the day of your enrolment or starting day of your job. As this is not always directly the day of your arrival, the above mentioned Travel Health Insurance should cover you until then.
  3. The Private Health Insurance is a health insurance coverage offered by private insurance companies. It is mostly chosen by language students as they can not enrol in the Public Health Insurance and also by employees with a higher income. We will explain that more in detail later on.

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.

Which German health insurance should I choose?

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:

  1. University students
  2. Language students
  3. Studienkolleg (Preparatory course)
  4. Scholarship holders, PhDs, and self-funded Guest Scientists
  5. Employees

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.

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.

Public health insurance funds in Germany

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.

Popular health insurance providers for students in Germany include TK, DAK, and Barmer. Out of these TK is the largest, serving over 10 million people annually. In comparison, TK also has the lowest additional fee which makes it highly desired by students, both national and international.

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.


Private health insurance in Germany

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.

For a stay of more than 90 days, DeGiS recommends to conclude a so called substitutive private health insurance. 


Conclusion about German 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.

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