10 things you should know about German health insurance

German Health Insurance
Last Update: July 2021

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

Travel health insurances are only valid until you cross the German border; after crossing the border, you will need to be covered with German health insurance. If you are not from the EU, we recommend using an Expat Health Insurance for the time being until you find employment or earn a steady income as a freelancer. Switching to public or private health insurance is totally possible if it is done within 2-3 years.

Is expat health insurance cheap?
Yes, it is cheaper than any other traditional health insurance because you do not pay for the so-called ageing provisions, making your premium less expensive from the start. Ageing provisions are small payments, normally included in your premium, that offset any significant changes in your premiums in old age.

German health insurance is mandatory while in the country. You cannot be enrolled at the university (except for the citizens from EU & EEA), apply for a visa/ residence permit or work unless you have German health insurance. 

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

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

There is also a third kind of health insurance which is the Expat one (we talked about it at Point 1 above). The Expat Health Insurance is only valid for 5 years.

Almost all employees in Germany are compulsory members of public health insurance (GKV). If your gross salary is below 64,350€ per year (for 2021) then membership in the GKV is compulsory; if your gross salary is above that current threshold then it is voluntary. In other words, if it is above the threshold, you can choose whether to stay with your current Public Health Insurance or to switch to Private Health Insurance.

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 an independent insurance provider who has tons of experience with visa authorities & processes! Their service is totally free.

In case you choose to join the compulsory health insurance, you can register with any of the available Krankenkassen which are all public. The largest and most popular Krankenkasse in Germany is TK. They have been awarded as the best health insurance fund in Germany for 15 years in a row; also they provide excellent customer service in English, which is rare in Germany! You can sign up for TK here (It's free!)

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 university student, please ask your insurance company to give you the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), then forward it to your chosen Krankenkasse in Germany.

Foreign students participating in language courses in Germany, as well as grant holders or au pairs, cannot join the public health insurance scheme (e.g. TK or AOK). 

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

Up until now, it was common in Germany to pay a consultation fee of 10 euros 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 euros personal contribution per day; the rest will be paid by your German health insurance.

In theory, 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. 

However, in practice, some doctors may refuse to take you in if they reached full capacity with their patients. Also, some doctors may only treat patients with private health insurance.


Did you enjoy this article?

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



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