German health insurance is mandatory by law meaning that every resident must be medically insured. No visa will be issued for internationals without sufficient health insurance coverage and no residence permit will be allowed unless there is proof of sufficient medical coverage for the duration of the stay. Thus, it is important to get yourself informed about the requirements as well as the health insurance options you as an expat have when moving to Germany.
Travel health insurance for your German entry visa
First and foremost, keep in mind that the health insurance you will be asked to provide to enter the country and the insurance you need for your stay in Germany are two different things you need to take care of. Get to know the difference in the requirements beforehand to prepare your application documents correctly and increase your chances of getting a visa or residence permit in time.
While still in your home country, it is often challenging to get in contact with German companies and arrange certain documents without being properly registered in Germany or having supporting certificates.
Health insurance is no exception and for that reason, you need to ensure and prove that you are properly insured for the first few months in Germany until you have settled down and sorted out all your documents. Private health insurance providers are offering a solution for visa applicants that is easy to obtain from another country and does not require additional documents. This form of insurance is often referred to as “travel” or “incoming” health insurance.
Based on your situation, you can either make use of it during your first months in Germany and then switch it to a more suitable option such as governmental health insurance or stay privately insured for the rest of your stay.
> Learn more about the health insurance types in Germany below.
Is travel health insurance for Germany compulsory?
For citizens of nationalities requiring a visa to enter Germany especially, travel health insurance is not only something that is great to have while travelling to Germany, but it is also a compulsory requirement to obtain a German visa.
What are the requirements for travel health insurance for Germany?
Make sure to check what kind of health insurance requirements are listed by the specific embassy you will go to when submitting your visa application. Typically, there are two basic conditions that your travel health insurance needs to fulfil – sufficient coverage and duration.
For how long do I need to be covered by my travel health insurance?
In most cases, applicants are required to provide a health insurance certificate for at least the first 3 months of their stay. However, some of the embassies abroad might also require you to be covered for a period of 6 months after entry.
What coverage do I need for my travel health insurance for Germany?
Your travel health insurance should have a coverage of at least €30,000. At best, you need to have unlimited coverage offered by your health insurance provider. Additionally, the insurance should also cover all Schengen countries.
It is also important that your travel health insurance for Germany covers unforeseen medical costs, like emergency medical care and hospitalisation.
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Health insurance for your stay in Germany
German health insurance system
The German healthcare system is one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. Since 2009 every person that has a permanent residence in Germany is obliged to have some form of health insurance, whether statutory (governmental) or private. This measure was undertaken by the government after the medical reform in 2007 to support the health insurance companies who were failing to cover the costs of their clients. This law also helps to prevent situations when one must privately cover the costs of medical care or medications in case of illness or an accident. Around 87% of the German population have sufficient health insurance.
Types of health insurance in Germany
Once you are in Germany, two different options become available for you to ensure sufficient health insurance coverage:
✔ Governmental health insurance (public, statutory or “Gesetzliche Krankenkasse” in German)
Everyone who enrolls in a German university is required by law to obtain public health insurance. It is not possible to enroll with an incoming health insurance or a travel health insurance.
A limited number of public health insurance providers operate on the German market. The government strictly regulates their operations as well as their pricing policies. All governmental health insurance providers in Germany are required to offer an affordable rate to (international) students who are under the age of 30 and enrolled in a state-recognized university.
Across all health insurance providers, the statutory health insurance rate for international students is the same. Additionally, each individual must make a separate additional contribution to their particular health insurance provider. This additional contribution is usually determined by the insurer.
✔ Private health insurance (“Private Krankenversicherung“ in German)
Whereas the governmental health insurance is accessible for everyone studying or working in Germany, certain conditions apply for private health insurance depending on such factors as the purpose of stay, country of origin etc. However, in most of the cases, it is up to you to decide whether you want to go for governmental or private health insurance.
Private health insurance providers frequently provide special pricing for international visitors to Germany which are based on their requirements and duration of stay. Therefore, those who aim to stay in Germany temporarily, such as au pairs, job seekers, or language students, would find private health insurance more suitable.
Universities recommend and require private health insurance coverage for students who are 30 years of age or older. Even while you can still sign up voluntarily with a public health insurance provider, private insurance is much more affordable and simpler to apply for.
It’s important to keep in mind that with private health insurance all treatment costs must be paid upfront by the policyholder. After that, upon submission of an invoice, the private health insurance provider will refund the expenses (cost reimbursement principle).
If you qualify for public health insurance but want to enroll in a German university with private health insurance, you will need to request an exemption from the statutory health insurance. Please be aware that after you receive an exemption, you you will not be able to switch back to statutory health insurance. Additionally, please note that the exemption request must be submitted during the first three months of enrolment. It is no longer possible to switch to private health insurance after that time limit has passed.
Comparison of the German health insurance types
The statutory health insurance covers general medical needs, including basic dental care. More specific medical treatments are covered only by a private insurance provider.
Public health insurance is much more affordable than the private one since its premium rate is regulated by the state. Private health insurance premiums are different for each individual policyholder and depend on the state of health, age and scope of benefits – which means that it can quickly become very expensive.
Coverage of the dependents
Whereas public health insurance may also cover your spouse/wife or children, private health insurance normally only covers the policyholder.
Private health insurance normally has wider geographical coverage and provides extensive medical assistance during your travels.
Please note: If you want to change your health insurance company, this is normally only possible after 12 months.
Eligibility for private health insurance
There are certain groups of people who are normally always privately insured:
- Employees with a gross salary higher than € 4.950 per month (2018)
- Public servants
- Self-employed persons and freelancers
- Students older than 30 years old or have finished their 14th semester
What should I do when I need medical assistance in Germany?
Please use the following emergency contacts in situations when you urgently need medical treatment. You can make those calls anytime and free of charge.
112 – Ambulance and/or fire brigade (in the whole Europe)
110 – Police
Medical on-call service
Once you need to get urgent medical assistance outside of regular working hours, you can either
- 116117 – use the on-call medical service provided by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians or
- contact the emergency department of the municipal hospital or the local university hospital
Learn more about health insurance in Germany
Watch the explanatory video of our statutory health insurance partner DAK-Gesundheit which explains what you need to do and how health insurance works in Germany.
The Fintiba Companion: Guiding your way to Germany step-by-step
Never miss an important step on your journey to Germany. From preparing your university application to mastering your visa application and navigating through daily life in Germany – the Fintiba Companion provides you with relevant information throughout all important stages of your German adventure within a comprehensive checklist – tailored to your individual situation.
Last update: March 10, 2023
* With the Free Travel Health Insurance in the Fintiba Plus package, you can save up to € 95.00. Please note that your right for free travel health insurance will expire if you do not activate either the private or statutory health insurance included in the package. We will issue an insurance confirmation which is valid for 183 days.