Public and Private Health Insurance

Tax Return

May 7, 2016

Health Insurance in Germany

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The Healthcare System in Germany 

Everything you need to know about the German insurance system


Health insurance is compulsory for the whole population in Germany. Germany has a multi-payer health care system with two main types of health insurance:

'Statutory Health Insurance' 
(Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) 

'Private Health Insurance' 
(Private Krankenversicherung).


Can I live in Germany without any health insurance?

No, it's illegal to be without insurance! By law, you cannot live in Germany, even temporarily, without being covered by health insurance. If you are not insured, your visa request or university enrollment will be denied.

But what if I have the EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is issued by your national health insurance provider and is only valid during a temporary stay in Germany (as well as in any other EU & EEA country). If you're a EU resident, you should apply for your EHIC before traveling to Germany. You need to get information from your insurance provider in your country of origin for all terms & conditions.

More info about the EHIC here.

Important: If you decide to work in Germany, even for a short period, you must apply for a German health insurance!

Can I move to Germany with an international health insurance?

This could be quite risky, because most of the foreign insurance companies are not registered with the financial regulatory authority in Germany, or BaFin. Even international companies that are authorized in Germany often do not meet the requirements & standards decided upon in new reforms. Currently, 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 could be denied.

April 2016 Update: The Ausländerbehörde (LABO) in Berlin is already denying most of the international health insurance plans. 

Do I automatically get insured when I start to work or study in Germany?

No. In Germany, you do not automatically get an insurance card when you start working or studying. You must first register with a 'Krankenkasse' (German health insurance fund). As an employee or a student, you must inform your employer/university which health insurance company you have chosen.

There are two different types of German health insurances: the public health insurance (GKV) and the private health insurance (PKV). While most people could be eligible for the public health insurance, being accepted by a private health insurance is more difficult and tricky (many conditions).

I don't have a German address yet, can I apply for a German health insurance?

It depends. If you don't have a German address yet, you'll not be able to become a member of a public health insurance company (e.g. Barmer, TK, AOK). By law, you need first to do the so-called 'Anmeldung' (German address registration). Once your German address is registered at the 'Bürgeramt' (local citizens office), you'll be able to apply for a proper German health insurance. More details in here.

If you're applying for a German visa, you'll need to prove to the German authorities that you already have a recognized health insurance. In this case, you'll need to apply for a travel health insurance (scroll down to the 'Travel Health Insurance' category).