The health insurance (Krankenversicherung) system in Germany is universal, meaning that by law everyone has to take out cover. There are two types of health insurance in Germany: statutory health insurance and private health insurance. The kind you have depends on your employment and how much you earn.
Does my foreign health insurance cover me in Germany?
If you are an EU citizen, you are covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for temporary stays. Once you register in Germany, you will need to take out health insurance.
If you are coming to Germany from outside the EU, having German health insurance is usually a pre-requisite for obtaining a residence permit. You will therefore need to take out German health insurance once you have arrived. Some exceptions to these rules apply to students (see below).
Statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung)
Statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung - GKV) covers most of the German population. If you are working in Germany and earn less than 66.600 euros per year (in 2023), you will automatically be enrolled in this scheme. Your monthly contributions cover visits to your doctor, hospital stays, basic dental care, and prescriptions and medicines.
If you pay into the German statutory insurance scheme, you are also covered by statutory accident insurance and long-term care insurance. You are also entitled to receive sickness benefit, child sickness benefit and maternity benefit.
Public health insurance companies in Germany
Public or state health insurance (GKV) in Germany is administered by around 110 non-profit organisations known as Krankenkassen (literally, sickness funds). Some are available nationwide, while others only serve particular regions in Germany. The following companies offer nationwide statutory health insurance:
- BARMER (registration and onboarding in English)
- TK (Techniker Krankenasse) (with customer service in English, provided by Feather)
Private health insurance
Freelancers, business-owners and other self-employed workers, as well as high-wage earners (those with salaries higher than 66.600 euros per year or 5.550 per month in 2023) can choose to opt out of statutory health insurance in favour of private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung - PKV). Around 10% of the population is covered by private health insurance.
PKV generally offers more comprehensive cover, including alternative treatments and private hospitals. On the other hand, contributions to private insurers are usually risk-related, meaning that they generally go up over time. Once you have opted out of statutory health insurance, it is quite difficult to go back, unless your personal circumstances significantly change.
German private health insurance companies
If you decide to opt for private health insurance, the following companies all provide cover for expats in Germany:
- KLforExpats (highly rated independent brokerage for expat professionals)
- ERICON broker (nationwide broker for German & International health insurance)
- Versicherungsbüro Weiss (English-speaking health insurance broker)
- Ottonova (full support in English | specially designed for expats | Get up to 30€ Amazon voucher)
- Expat Brokers (English-speaking broker Berlin/Frankfurt-Expert for visas, freelancers, employed persons)
- muffin (independent insurance experts, transparent & chat via Whatsapp)
- Feather (for high-wage earners or self-employed persons; insurance provided by Hallesche)
- Advigon (temporary health insurance with customer service in English provided by Feather)
International health insurance companies in Germany
These international health insurance companies provide cover in Germany:
- ERICON broker (Nationwide broker for German & International health insurance)
- GeoBlue (for US citizens)
- IMG Global Medical Insurance
- Foyer Global Health
Student health insurance
If you are studying in Germany, before you can enrol at your university, you will need to demonstrate that you are covered by health insurance. Depending on your country of origin, you may be covered by your foreign health insurance policy. Germany has agreements with some countries to recognise their health insurance plans as valid in Germany.
If your foreign health insurance is not recognised, you will need to take out a German health insurance policy. See our Student health insurance page for more details.
Student health insurance companies in Germany
The following companies all provide insurance policies specially tailored to the needs of foreign students:
- BARMER (registration and onboarding in English, provided by Feather Insurance)
- TK (Techniker Krankenasse) (with customer service in English, provided by Feather Insurance)
- EDUCARE24 (private student health insurance)
Penalties for not taking out health insurance
Failing to take out health insurance is illegal. It can also be a costly option: if you are found to be residing without health insurance, you can be charged back payments to cover your entire stay in Germany.
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