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Health insurance in Germany

Health insurance in Germany

Health insurance in Germany

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 59.4000 euros per year, 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 and maternity benefit.

Private health insurance

Freelancers, business-owners and other self-employed workers, as well as high-wage earners (those with salaries higher than 59.400 euros per year or 4.950 per month in 2019) 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:

International health insurance companies in Germany

These international health insurance companies provide cover in Germany: 

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.

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.

Read also

  • Statutory health insurance in Germany (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung)

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    Everyone studying in Germany needs health insurance. Find out if your foreign insurance is valid, and how to take out student health insurance in Germany.
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