10 things you should know about German health insurance

German Health Insurance Explained

German Health Insurance
Last Update: May 2018

Read also our Complete Guide to Health Insurance in Germany.

Since 2007, expatriates in Germany are obliged to be covered with a registered German health insurance.

While your overseas travel insurance was sufficient until you reached Germany, a German insurance is mandatory while in the country. You cannot be enrolled at the university (except for the citizens from EU & EEA) or apply for a residence permit unless you have a German insurance. 

You need to apply for it after registering your address in Germany (Anmeldung process). 

There are two kinds of health insurances: Public (GKV – Krankenversicherung) and Private (PKV – Private Krankenversicherung). The Public insurance is likely to be more economical than a private insurance and easier to apply for, but the private option is likely to give you more coverage.

Almost all employees in Germany are compulsory members of the public health insurance. If your gross salary is below 59,400€ per year (for 2018) then membership in the GKV is compulsory; if your gross salary is above that current threshold then it is voluntary. 

If you are an employee, your company pays half of the insurance contributions, the other half comes out of your's salary. 

Almost none of the major international health insurers provide a German-language certificate recognized by the visa authorities in Germany, thus your visa or residence permit would be denied.

Go safe and choose a competent German insurance company that is well known by the visa authorities!

In case you choose to join the compulsory health insurance, you can register with any of the available Krankenkassen which are all public.

If you are a citizen from the European Union or the European Economic Area and you intend to study in Germany or be an intern, you can get your public health insurance in your home country approved by a public health insurance company in Germany. 

If you are a student, please ask your insurance company to give you the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

Foreign students participating in language courses in Germany as well as grant holders or graduate students at German universities cannot join the public health insurance scheme (e.g. Barmer, TK or AOK). 

In these cases you'll need to look for a convenient private health insurance for students.

Up until now it was common in Germany to pay a consultation fee of 10 euro when seeing a doctor. 

As of January 2013, this will no longer be required and seeing a doctor will be for free. This also applies to seeing a dentist, who had to be paid separately in the past.

If you have to be hospitalized, you would have to pay a maximum of 10 euro personal contribution per day; the rest will be paid by your German health insurance.

You are allowed to choose your doctor and all doctors should inform you explicitly in advance of any additional expenses you may incur, then it is up to you to decide whether or not you use these services.


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Read also our 'Complete Guide to Health Insurance in Germany'. Find it here.

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