Health Insurance for Germany

Health insurance is mandatory by the Government of Germany -no matter how long you stay-you must be insured. For an international student who enrolls himself in University whether it is government or private, his enrolment will only be finished once he is insured by a German health insurance company.

How many health insurances are there and which would I need for my stay in Germany?

Health insurance is the most important part of Germany and it also affects when you work as a part-time student in Germany because if you do not have health insurance then you are not allowed to work there in Germany.

  • There are two types of insurance systems in Germany.
    the statutory health insurance (also referred to as  governmental health insurance or public health insurance)
  • private health insurance


Since citizens from outside of the EU member states are not able to remain insured with their home country’s health insurance, they need to cover themselves with German health insurance.

Depending on your individual situation, you may be eligible for either private or statutory health insurance.

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 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 had 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 has sufficient health insurance.

German health insurance alternatives

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)

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.

 Private health insurance (“Private Krankenversicherung“ in German)

Whereas the government 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 cases, it is up to you to decide whether you want to go for governmental or private health insurance.

Differences between public and private health insurance providers

Comparison of German health insurance types

Medical coverage

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.

Travel coverage

Private health insurance normally has wider geographical coverage and provides extensive medical assistance during your travels.

Differences between public and private health insurance providers

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

There are also ways to apply for exemption from compulsory insurance for other groups of German residents. For international guests in Germany, private health insurance companies often offer special rates which are adapted to the needs and length of the stay.

Good to know before you apply for a health insurance

  • If you want to change your health insurance company, this is normally only possible after 18 months.
  • If you would like to change your insurance scheme from public to private, it is required to notify the insurance provider 2 months in advance.
  • Foreign students under 30 years old have an opportunity to be privately insured as well. However, they first need to request a certificate of exemption from the statutory health insurance for enrolment. Please note that afterward, it is impossible to return to the statutory insurance plan.

When privately insured, all treatment costs must be paid in advance by the policyholder. Afterward, the insurance company will reimburse the costs upon submission of an invoice (cost reimbursement principle).

Useful information for when you need healthcare assistance in Germany

Emergency numbers

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

Governmental health insurance

In Germany, everyone who enrols at a German university is legally obligated to obtain public health insurance. An incoming or travel health insurance cannot be accepted for the enrolment.
For (international) students under 30 years of age and who are enrolled at a state-recognised university, all statutory health insurance providers in Germany must offer an affordable tariff.
The statutory health insurance tariff for foreign students is the same for all health insurance companies. On top of that, there is an individual additional contribution to the respective health insurance company which is individually defined by the insurer.

Private health insurance

For international guests in Germany, private health insurance companies often offer special rates which are tailored to the needs and length of their stay. Therefore, private health insurance is especially suitable for language students, jobseekers or au-pairs, planning a temporary stay in Germany.

For students aged 30 years or older, private health insurance coverage is recommended and expected by universities. Even though you can still apply for voluntary membership at a public health insurance company, private insurances are substantially cheaper and easier to apply for.

With private health insurance, it is important to notice that all treatment costs must be paid in advance by the policyholder. Afterwards, the private health insurance company will reimburse the costs upon submission of an invoice (cost reimbursement principle).

In case you are eligible for public health insurance but plan to enrol at a German university with private health insurance, you will need an exemption from the obligatory statutory health insurance. Please note that after an exemption, you will not be able to switch back to statutory health insurance. Furthermore, please be aware that the exemption request must be made within the first three months of your enrolment. After that period has expired, it is not possible to change to private health insurance anymore.

Still confused?

We, at Dream Catcher Education CONSULTANCY, are happy to help you with any kind of inquiries or questions regarding Health Insurance of Germany at our office from time to time. You can speak with us directly and ask all your queries on course selection, application procedures, fee waivers, offer acceptance, tuition fees, scholarships and internships, and life on/off-campus.

You can always call or email us. We are always here to help you.