In Germany it is mandatory for every person to have health insurance. Therefore, all applicants for a residence permit are required to demonstrate adequate health insurance coverage before receiving such a permit for Germany. The coverage must include medical treatment in the case of acute illness and accidents. Before coming to Germany, we recommend to obtain a written confirmation from your current health insurance provider that your health insurance coverage is also valid for the planned stay in Germany. If your health insurance in your home country will not cover you while in Germany, you will need either to take out additional coverage in your home country or obtain coverage in Germany.
Find a suitable health insurance
In Germany there is both state-regulated and private health insurance. Which kind of insurance suits your needs depends on the duration of your stay and whether you receive a fellowship or are funding your visit privately or whether you are employed.
If you enter Germany on a Schengen visa as a non-EU citizen for a short stay (max 90 days), generally travel health insurance with coverage of at least 30 000 Euro is required for all Schengen countries.
Scholars from the European Union
If you come from an EU country and will be in Germany only temporarily, you simply need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card makes you eligible to use the public health system (doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, emergency rooms) and covers medical treatment for acute illness and accidents (only necessary medical treatment is covered). If you have pre-existing conditions or illnesses, you should make sure to obtain the necessary medications in your home country. The European Health Insurance Card does not cover trips taken with the purpose of obtaining medical treatment abroad.
In Germany fellowship holders or self-financing visitors normally have to obtain private health insurance. In many cases, funding organizations offer health insurance. The insurance office of the DAAD offers international fellowship recipients of the DAAD and their national and international partners (German Universities, AvH, DKFZ) a combined health, accident and private liability insurance policy.
There is detailed information about the conditions, prices and services as well as about the partner institutions and online registration on the web site of the DAAD. A list with other private health insurance companies in Germany is provided in downloads on the right column.
Exception in the case of sufficient insurance coverage at home (outside the EU)
If you have health insurance in your home country, please check before coming to Germany whether this insurance will cover all necessary doctors’ and hospital costs during your stay here. Your insurance company will need to confirm such coverage in writing for you. This is generally possible only when there is a social security agreement in place between Germany and your home country. Information about such agreements is available from the appropriate government office in your home country or your health insurance company. If you do not receive a confirmation from your health insurance company or there is no social security agreement with your country, you will have to take out private health insurance while in Germany.
Exception in the case of sufficient insurance coverage at home (EU, EWR or Switzerland )
If you have state-regulated health insurance in your home country, you can remain insured with your home country insurance during your stay in Germany. In order to do this, you must stay registered with your health insurance company and continue to pay the premiums. Please find out in advance which medical services your health insurance company will cover and have your company confirm this in writing for you. If you plan to have medical treatment at a hospital here, you must have this approved in advanced by your insurance company.
It is possible to obtain health insurance from a German state-regulated health insurance company if you can demonstrate (using Form S1 or E 104) that you have had state-regulated health insurance in your home country for an adequate amount of time. Please inquire at your home health insurance company.
Please note: The European Health Insurance Card has only a limited validity and health insurance from other countries does not always cover all costs that arise in Germany.
As an employee, for example with an employment contract with the University, with a regular gross income of more than 450 Euro, you will automatically receive state-regulated health insurance. This type of insurance is mandatory unless your income exceeds a prescribed limit. Only if your regular yearly income is above the valid health insurance obligation limit (in 2018 this is 59.400 Euro) do you have so-called freedom of insurance and can choose among private health insurance or voluntary state-regulated health insurance.
State-Regulated Health Insurance
State-regulated insurance provides all holders, regardless of age, gender, state of health and income, legally regulated services - it insures the holder and his/her family in the case of sickness and pays for the necessary medical assistance. As of 2015, the contribution rate for health insurance is made up of two components: 1) a universal, fixed component of 14.6% of your gross income and 2) an additional component that is set at regular intervals by every state-regulated health insurance provider individually according to their financial situation. The additional component is paid by the employee only and is based upon his or her income. The total contribution rate is, on average, 15.6% (as of January 2018) of the employee's gross income and of this, the employer pays a fixed share of 7.3%.
State-regulated health insurance also includes premium-free family insurance. This insures the holders’ spouses or official partners and children (up to a certain age limit). The prerequisites to be eligible for family insurance is that the income of the spouses/partners and children does not exceed 425 Euro per month (2018) and that they are not insured themselves. The permissible total income for marginal employment is 450 Euro.
The various insurance providers differ in customer service, additional component, additional premiums and services and the voluntary plans offered. Therefore it is recommended to compare several insurance providers before making a final decision.
Private Health Insurance
In contrast to state-regulated health insurance providers, private insurance providers can pick and choose their members. The insurance benefits provided by private insurance companies are not regulated by the state and they vary greatly according to provider and plan. The premiums paid by the insurance holder are calculated according to age, gender, state of health and the desired benefits or the plan chosen. Family members are not automatically included in a plan, as in state-regulated insurance, but must be insured individually.
Private insurance functions according to the patient-pays principle. This means that the insurance holder must pay all bills for medical services up front and then must apply to the insurance provider for reimbursement.