Table of Contents
- 1 Types of insurance in Germany
- 2 Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)
- 3 Dog liability insurance
- 4 Health insurance (Krankenversicherung)
- 5 Pet health insurance (Tierkrankenversicherung)
- 6 Car insurance (Kfz-Versicherung)
- 7 Disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung)
- 8 Life insurance (Lebensversicherung)
- 9 Household insurance (Hausratversicherung)
- 10 Legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)
- 11 Third-party Private Liability Insurance
- 12 Household Contents or Home Insurance
- 13 Legal Assistance insurance
- 14 Accidental Death and Disablement insurance
- 15 Repatriation Insurance
- 16 Term Life Insurance
- 17 Annual Travel Insurance
- 18 CYBER Protection
- 19 Health Insurance Options in Germany
- 20 Overview
- 21 Government Health Insurance System (GKV)
- 22 Private Health Insurance (PKV)
- 23 Additional information for employees
- 24 Sick Pay Insurance
- 25 Cross-Border Care, Travel Insurance and Evacuation Benefits
- 26 Dental Care
- 27 Pharmacies
- 28 Additional information for self-employed, non-employed persons or retirees
- 29 Additional information for UK citizens in Germany (Brexit)
- 30 Optional insurance in Germany
- 31 How does insurance work in Germany?
- 32 Health Insurance for Foreigners in Germany
- 33 Germany Healthcare System
- 34 Differences Between Private and Public Health Insurance
- 35 How to Register for Public Health Insurance?
- 36 How to Get Private Health Insurance?
- 37 Cost of Health Insurance in Germany: Is Public or Private Insurance Cheaper?
- 38 Can I Opt-Out of Health Insurance?
- 39 Does Health Insurance Cover Giving Birth in Germany?
- 40 Does German Health Insurance Cover Medication?
- 41 Do German Health Insurance Cover Hospitalization Costs?
- 42 How to Get a Doctor’s Appointment in Germany?
- 43 Germany Emergency Services
Types of insurance in Germany
This is an overview of the common types of insurance in Germany, and why they are important.
Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)
In Germany, if you cause damage to other people’s body or property, you must pay reparations1. For example, if you forget to remove the snow in front of your house and someone slips, they can sue you for damages. You are also responsible for the damage caused by your pets. In Berlin, you must have liability insurance for your dog.
The value of the damages can be extremely high, and you could be paying reparations for the rest of your life. Even a small accident could bankrupt you. This is why you liability insurance is a good idea. 83% of Germans have liability insurance.
If someone sues you for damages, liability insurance will cover the legal costs and the reparations. It only costs around 5€ per month, so it’s worth it.
Use Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options. If you don’t speak German, GetSafe and Feather offer liability insurance, and they speak English.
Professional liability insurance
Private liability insurance does not cover your work. If you are a freelancer, you should also get liability insurance that covers the work you do for clients. For example, buildings, websites, medical operations etc. If you make a professional mistake, professional liability insurance will protect you. For some professions, this insurance is even mandatory. If you are an employee, you do not need professional liability insurance.
Dog liability insurance
Dog liability insurance (Hundehaftpflichtversicherung) pays for the damages caused by your dog. For example, if your dog bites someone, or destroys another person’s things, your insurance will pay for the damages. It’s sometimes called pet liability insurance (Tierhaftpflichtversicherung) or pet owner liability insurance (Tierhalterhaftpflichtversicherung).
Dog liability insurance is mandatory in Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Thuringia. Some states only require dog liability insurance for dangerous breeds.
Hundehaftpflichtversicherung is very cheap. It costs less than 5€ per month. Use Tarifcheck to compare prices. If you don’t speak German, GetSafe and Coya offer dog liability insurance, and they speak English. They both cover dangerous breeds.
Health insurance (Krankenversicherung)
Health insurance is mandatory in Germany. If you stay in Germany for more than 3 months, you must get German health insurance. There are two options in Germany: public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) and private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung or PKV). This guide explains how German health insurance works.
The best way to find the right health insurance is to use a health insurance broker. Their services are free; they get paid by the insurance company when you sign a contract.
Pet health insurance (Tierkrankenversicherung)
Pet health insurance (Tierkrankenversicherung) covers the veterinary bills if your dog gets sick. Usually, it does not cover routine operations like vaccines or castration1. However, it covers expensive operations. This can be important when your dog gets old.
The price of pet insurance depends on the age, race and sex of your dog. It costs around 20€ per month if your dog is still young.
Use Check24 to compare prices. If you don’t speak German, Coya offers pet health insurance, and they speak English.
Car insurance (Kfz-Versicherung)
If you drive a vehicle in Germany, it must be insured. There are two types of car insurance: Vollkasko and Teilkasko.
Vollkasko insurance covers the damage to your car and to other cars, even if the accident is your fault. If you destroy your car in an accident, the insurance company will replace it. Vollkasko insurance is usually several times more expensive than Teilkasko.
Teilkasko insurance only covers the damage to other people and vehicles. If you cause an accident, your Teilkasko will pay to fix other people’s cars, but it will not pay you to on your own car. If the accident is someone else’s fault, their insurance will pay for the repairs on your car.
Some Teilkasko insurances also cover theft and vandalism. Read your policy carefully, and make sure it covers the right things for you.
Use Verivox or Tarifcheck to compare car insurance prices. If you don’t speak German, GetSafe offers car insurance in English.
Disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung)
This translates to “professional disability insurance”. If you have an accident and can’t do your job anymore, this insurance will help you. For example, if you are a surgeon and you lose a finger, this insurance can be useful. It’s also useful for office workers who can suffer from burnout.
This insurance makes sense if you have people who depend on you, or a mortgage to pay. If you can’t work, you can still take care of your family. Around 26% of Germans have disability insurance1.
Use Tarifcheck to compare disability insurance options.
Life insurance (Lebensversicherung)
Life insurance pays money to your family when you die. It’s not useful for you, but it’s useful for the people who depend on you. If you have people who depend on you financially, then life insurance is really important. Life insurance is cheap when you are young, but more expensive when you get older.
Household insurance (Hausratversicherung)
Hausratversicherung insures the contents of your house, up to a certain value. This includes your furniture and all the other movable things in your house. It can also cover things like computers and bicycles. Some home contents insurances will even pay for the locksmith if you lose your keys. Feather’s household insurance covers the locksmith.
If you don’t own expensive furniture, it’s cheaper to insure items individually. For example, you can get bicycle insurance (Fahrradversicherung) instead of a household insurance that covers bicycles. If you don’t speak German, GetSafe offers bicycle insurance, and they speak English.
Household insurance is not very expensive – less than 5€ per month. 76% of Germans have it. Use Tarifcheck to compare home contents insurance options. If you don’t speak German, Feather and GetSafe offer household insurance, and they speak English.
Legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)
Legal insurance gives you free access to a lawyer. If you have a problem with your landlord, your employer, the tax office or anyone else, you can call a lawyer. You can ask them questions, they can write letters for you, and they can go to court with you. Legal insurance will pay for it.
There is private legal insurance (for you), and professional legal insurance (for your business). Private legal insurance costs around 15€ per month. Professional legal insurance is more expensive. The price depends on the type of business.
Around 46% of Germans have legal insurance. It’s not as important as liability insurance, but it’s good to have.
Use Tarifcheck to compare legal insurance options. If you don’t speak German, Feather and GetSafe offer legal insurance, and they speak English.
Third-party Private Liability Insurance
The most important and yet the least expensive insurance cover you will need in Germany is third-party private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). It will provide cover to you or to any insured member of your family in the event that you commit an act for which a German court would consider you ordinarily negligent.
Under German Law, there is no ceiling on the level of damages an individual could have awarded against them for an act they committed, even one committed innocently but carelessly, or for the misdeeds of their dog or horse.
Ordinary negligence could be a simple matter of damaging someone else’s property, for instance knocking over a vase while visiting a friend or in a shop, or causing an accident as a pedestrian by not crossing at the zebra crossing, causing bodily injury whilst skiing or engaging in other sports activities. Please note that dogs and horses must be insured separately and are not included in a single or family policy. This essential insurance is intended to give you more than just peace of mind and is strongly recommended and often contractually required, when you are renting a property.
Any damage claims can be painful and a high level of cover, (we suggest 50 million Euros for a family, less for animals) costs relatively little. Saving by taking out a cheap policy with limited coverage is very much a false economy.
Third-party private liability insurance will not provide cover for anyone driving a car, piloting an aeroplane, or sailing a boat; no cover is provided for hunting. All of these require separate insurance policies.
You should be aware that German third-party private liability insurances with either a three or five year term cannot be cancelled before the term is up. An insurance agent selling these term contracts will receive a higher commission for locking a client into a multi-year product. Our strong advice is to buy only annually renewable polices; there is absolutely no reason to take out a policy which leaves you unable to switch at a renewal date if a more attractive or a better quality insurance cover becomes available.
Household Contents or Home Insurance
Household contents insurance (Hausratversicherung) is necessary to indemnify you for loss of, or damage to your possessions. Included are all belongings contained in your home, such as furniture – including (optionally) built-in kitchen units -, clothing, collectibles, sports equipment, valuables and computers for personal use. Fixtures and fittings attached to the building and not owned by you are generally excluded as these are the responsibility of your landlord or the house owner under their own separate insurance policy.
The coverage includes the risks of fire, burglary, storm damage, water damage and/or vandalism. Coverage outside the premises (for instance, robbery) is often limited up to approximately 10-15% of the total insured sum. The risk of fire, water damage and theft from your home in your absence increases the longer you are away and you must notify your insurer if you intend to leave the premises for longer than 60 days. Some policies also include limited cover for damage caused by electrical surges.
If you are a tenant, you should be aware that your household contents insurance will not cover damages to any rental furniture.
The insurance sum is calculated using the replacement value of all your belongings; if your total household possessions are worth more than 75,000 Euros, there are a number of international insurance companies which offer all-risk coverage which may be of interest to those with art collections, jewellery and other items of considerable value. This cover is more comprehensive than is normal for standard German policies.
Bicycle thefts are a problem in Germany, where so many people use two wheels; additional insurance should be purchased, especially if more than one bicycle is owned or if the iron steed in your possession is especially valuable. Some insurance tariffs include coverage for bicycle theft, but this is by no means universal.
Breakage of window panes can also be insured separately; this is a good idea when the panes of glass are large and costly to repair and especially so when there are young children in the household who are prone to launching their harder possessions without necessarily aiming too consciously.
If you are self-employed and normally work from home, you must insure your office equipment separately.
The premiums for any household insurance cover depend on the area in which you live, the value of your possessions and the benefit levels you wish to have.
You should be aware that German household contents or home insurances with either a three or five year term cannot be cancelled before the term is up. An insurance agent selling these term contracts will receive a higher commission for locking a client into a multi-year product. Our strong advice is to buy only annually renewable polices; there is absolutely no reason to take out a policy which leaves you unable to switch at a renewal date if a more attractive or a better quality insurance cover becomes available.
Legal Assistance insurance
Both the German language and indeed the German legal system are probably radically different from the traditions and experience of most new residents. Misunderstandings or disagreements with employers, landlords, neighbours, local merchants, and tax authorities, not to mention parties involved in a car or perhaps another accident, happen often enough.
Legal assistance insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) could save you significant amounts of money and a lot of personal discomfort. This insurance can help protect your rights and allow you to litigate without having to spend your own money in advance without knowing whether you will win your case and having your legal expenses reimbursed at some later date.
Most people simply cannot afford to take the risk of going to court, especially when they don’t understand the language.
The attorneys’ and court fees in Germany are based on the amount in dispute. For instance, should you have a dispute with your landlord and need to go to court based on a disputed amount of 4.000 Euros, the court and attorney’s fees that will have to be paid in advance can be as high as 4.000 €. If you have legal assistance insurance and your claim is held to be valid by your insurance company, the insurer would take care of any necessary payments.
This insurance covers the costs of your own attorney, court fees, and witnesses, costs of the opposing side if you lose the case and bail outside Germany.
Good insurance will normally cover:
- Disputes with landlords or neighbours (3 month waiting period)
- Employment law (3 month waiting period)
- Unwarranted driver’s license loss, traffic accidents and violations
- Disagreement with the tax authorities (in court cases)
- Advice on inheritance issues (though not for disputes between beneficiaries)
- Claims for compensation for damages (personal injury or property)
It should be noted that the legal consultation concerning inheritance and family law is limited and that divorce is not included.
There are specialised policies available for self-employed people or those in senior management positions.
Accidental Death and Disablement insurance
Insurance which covers death or disablement (Unfallversicherung) is often forgotten or just ignored as it is uncomfortable to think about. It normally pays a lump sum in the event of a valid claim resulting from an accident.
As a rule of thumb, a policy for accidental death or 100% disablement should provide cover for 5-6 times the insured’s annual income.
Death is self explanatory, but there is a table of compensation rates for damage to, or loss of individual body parts; for instance, blindness in both eyes could receive compensation of up to 100% of the total insured sum, whereas the loss of a leg up to the knee could result in compensation of up to 50% and the loss of a finger up to 30%.
Many accident insurance policies will also pay benefits in the event of an insured child swallowing a poisonous substance.
This insurance must not be confused with occupational disability, critical illness or income replacement cover. Benefits under an accident insurance policy will not be paid if you become disabled due to an illness.
You should be aware that German accident insurances with a multi-year term cannot be cancelled before the term is up. An insurance agent selling these term contracts will receive a higher commission for locking a client into a multi-year product. Our strong advice is to use only annually renewable accident polices.
Or in German, “Rückführungsversicherung”, supports holders in the most unpredictable event of one’s life
Being a type of accident-related insurance, repatriation insurance offers its holders a more specific coverage for the worst-case scenario, an unexpected demise in a foreign country.
Although it deals with a very sensitive topic, repatriation coverage is extremely relevant for international students and workers living abroad. The repatriation insurance covers the repatriation of the body in case of death.
This coverage may be included in travel insurance. However, when the travel insurance expires you are no longer protected. Expatrio offers you repatriation insurance as an extension to the public health insurance. Visit our Insurances page to know more about the topic.
Term Life Insurance
Term Life insurance (Risikolebensversicherung) makes sense for those with a family and/or mortgages, as it will provide a lump sum in the event of an insured person’s death by practically any cause. This insurance is inexpensive and the cost is based on the age of the insured at the start of the insurance, the insurance sum itself, the insurance term and the medical history and smoker status of the insured person.
For those with existing term life insurance from their home country, it is important to receive confirmation from your existing insurer that the policy is valid while residing in Germany.
Annual Travel Insurance
An annual travel insurance policy (Reiseversicherung) offers comprehensive insurance cover for each private (or if you are self employed, also business) trip without the need to purchase a new policy for each journey.
An annual travel insurance policy will normally pay for itself after your second private journey overseas. There are no limits on how often you can travel, with global coverage barring known war zones. You should be aware of the normal maximum duration of each trip which, depending on the chosen tariff, can lie between 31 and 42 days. In the event that you wish to undertake a longer trip, this should be advised to the insurance company in advance.
An annual travel insurance package will normally include the following benefits:
Travel cancellation insurance
Reimbursement of cancellation fees arising from an inability to travel due to an accident or a serious illness. This is normally only worthwhile as a standalone product, for trips which cost at least 500 Euros per person.
Trip curtailment insurance
In case you cannot finish your trip on schedule, any additional costs for the return journey will be reimbursed. You should be aware that depending on the severity of the grounds for curtailing your trip, some insurance companies will also reimburse the value of the unused portion of a curtailed holiday.
Travel health insurance
This will reimburse the costs of necessary medical treatment overseas for acute illnesses as well as any necessary repatriation of the insured in the event of an emergency.
If you are or will be in the German Government Health System, we strongly recommend that you purchase an annual travel health insurance policy which will cover you for emergency hospital and out patient treatment, medically advised evacuation and emergency dental care when outside Germany.
Travel luggage insurance
The present value of your possessions and luggage in the event of a theft or robbery, or the costs arising from damage to or the disappearance of your possessions while being transported, will be reimbursed; up to the maximum limit set within the policy.
The majority of insurance companies offer assistance via their hotlines in case of emergencies.
In our modern online world there are definitely threats to our security, our money and our personal well-being. Who would help you if your computer gets hacked, your data or your identity stolen or your child gets mobbed on the internet?
There is a growing awareness that assistance in such cases is of great use and there are more and more offers on the market for protecting the internet security issues in your home as well as your interaction with business and private partners. Cyber modules can be added to private liability and legal assistance insurance, too. If you have a small business it is essential to consider the effects of a cyber-attack or a breakdown in your data protection responsibility.
Health Insurance Options in Germany
Germany has a reputation for having one of the best and most comprehensive health care systems in the world, providing its residents with health, sick pay and long-term nursing care insurance coverage. Approximately 90% of the population is a mandatory or a voluntary member of the public health scheme while the rest have private health insurance. The health insurance reform of 2007 requires everyone living in Germany to be insured for at least hospital and out-patient medical treatment. There is a heavy penalty to be paid in case you have any gaps in coverage.
The costs of the German public health care scheme are immense and constantly rising due to demographics as well as medical cost inflation and the large bureaucracy which continues to expand with each reform. The expected loss for the public health system is over 1.7 billion Euros. Financing is through payments made by the members of the German public health scheme and their employers along with ever higher tax subsidies. The present health minister pushed through 20 new laws in 2018/2019 which went into effect, all of which will COST the system more money than before. The goal is to improve benefits, digitalize the health system (which is still very old-fashioned and analog) and to subsidize areas that have been underfinanced in the past years. Some planned changes will be that you can access a doctor online, call a special phone number to get an appointment with a specialist, use new apps provided by your doctor for specific diseases (for instance diabetes), and starting on March 1, 2020 it was obligatory to have your children vaccinated against measles. Women over the age of 19 can access screening for cervical cancer. This will, among other improvements, cost the system more as the years go by. Reforms can also go in the opposite direction, reducing benefits and rationing them. That is the future of the German public health scheme which is a social health system and offers no contractual security going forward. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are yet to be determined.
If you are employed in Germany, your employer pays 50% of the total public health insurance premium. Each Krankenkasse can demand a supplemental payment from their members to meet their costs and as the average declared percentage amount is approximately 1.3 %, this means that the total is 15.9% of gross salary with the majority of Kassen.
You have three options for health insurance while living in Germany if you are required to show proof of health insurance: the government-regulated public health insurance scheme (GKV), private health insurance from a German or international insurance company (PKV) or a combination of GKV and supplemental PKV. You can opt for a full private health insurance plan if your income is above the threshold amount of 64,350 Euros gross salary, if you are self-employed, not employed (a mini job does not count) or you are over 55 years of age and not employed. Finding the best service provider for public health insurance or finding the most suitable coverage from a private health insurer while still at a competitive rate is not always easy but is well worth the effort.
As people have different requirements or expectations from health insurance, it is important to understand the system in order to filter out the most suitable plan while living in Germany. It is important to mention that you cannot simply switch between the public health scheme and private health insurance at will as certain prerequisites exist. Independent advice from experienced insurance brokers who understand the pros and cons of both systems as well as considering your individual circumstances is strongly to be advised.
Health insurance is not a commodity to be bought at the cheapest price but rather is a vital financial support in times of illness or after an accident.
Government Health Insurance System (GKV)
Most German residents (approx. 73 million people) are members of the government health system. If your gross salary is less than 64,350 Euros per year, or 5,362 Euros per month in 2021 then membership in the GKV is mandatory. The government health insurance scheme is administered by 103 Krankenkassen and they charge the same basic rate of 14.6 % plus a possible average supplemental rate of 1.3 % of your eligible gross salary with a cap set at a maximum monthly income of 4,837 Euros (2021 figures). If you earn more than this income threshold which is set each year, you do not pay a higher insurance premium. Assuming a maximum monthly health insurance premium of 770 Euros as an employee earning at or above the income threshold you are therefore a voluntary member and your own contribution will be approximately 385 Euros with your employer paying the other 385 Euros. The general minimum period of membership with any Krankenkasse is presently 12 months. You can switch government health fund providers by giving two months’ notice after 12 months membership or if a supplemental premium is increased. As a voluntary member of the GKV you can opt out at any time with a 2 month cancellation notice if you prefer a private health plan and have been accepted by the insurance company of your choice.
The medical benefits offered in the GKV include in-patient (hospital) care as a ward patient with the doctor on duty at your nearest hospital, out-patient care with registered doctors (Kassenaerzte) and basic dental care. Please note that there is no coverage for private doctors or surgeons, a semi-private or private room in hospital, alternative/homeopathic medical care, dental subsidies beyond the very basics, and vision products for adults or any medical benefits outside of Europe. Your nonworking dependents living at your address in Germany are presently insured at no additional cost and simply need to be registered with the same Krankenkasse as yourself as the paying member.
If you choose to join the German government system, you can register with any of the 103 Krankenkassen which are non-profit associations administrating the government health scheme. Some (for instance AOK, TK, SBK, BARMER, DAK) are very large and have millions of members while others (often called BKKs) might have just a few thousand members. This does not mean that the benefits are very different, as all health insurance funds must adhere to the government regulations on the benefits they offer. The premiums may also vary somewhat due to changing regulations and it would also be optimal to research which voluntary supplemental programs the Krankenkasse offers in order to be able to participate in, for instance, a no-claims bonus, free checkups or discounts on supplemental health plans. Tip: Make sure you ask about the possibility of communicating in the English language to make your life easier, though only a limited number of Kassen actually offer this service and have English speaking staff.
You and your dependents must also become members of the government long-term nursing care scheme (Pflegepflichtversicherung). This covers a portion of the cost of meeting personal nursing needs, such as the feeding and bathing of those who become substantially disabled. Due to major reforms of the nursing care system in 2017/2019 there has been a further increase in the cost. This cost is 3.05% (or 3.3% if you have no children) of your gross salary (maximum approximately 160 Euros per month) of which your employer pays only up to 74 Euros.
THIS MAKES A MAXIMUM TOTAL OF APPROXIMATELY 930 Euros per month if you are earning 4,837 Euros or more as an employee. Your employer contributes approximately 459 Euros. Your dependent spouse and children residing in Germany are included in your membership at no additional cost if you register them.
If you would like additional insurance coverage to supplement the government system benefits, you can purchase a policy from any private health insurance company, German or international; for instance, if you would like access to and reimbursement of costs for a private doctor and a private room in hospital, homeopathy and other alternative treatment or higher dental reimbursements. Emergency evacuation from places outside Germany, for instance from ski resorts, which are included with a private travel insurance policy should also be considered as these are not paid for by the state health insurance scheme and it would be very costly to have to pay for such benefits out of pocket.
Public health insurance funds sometimes offer supplemental insurance plans from a particular provider, offering a group rebate. Such tied plans are not always ideal as you would normally have a wider choice of benefits on the private health insurance market and you may be required to stick with your Krankenkasse longer than you would like to.
Private Health Insurance (PKV)
Private health insurance plans cover a wider choice of medical and dental treatment than the government system and generally provide broad geographical coverage. By having private health insurance you are considered a private patient and can expect a higher level of service from the medical profession. Hospitals and doctors depend to a large extent on private patients to supplement their incomes and therefore welcome them. A private patient can also request and will often get, doctors who speak their native language. The private medical insurance market is served by about 40 German insurance companies, and there are premium/benefit combinations available to suit most budgets. Per person cost of full medical insurance is based on the level of benefits chosen, as well as on entry age and any pre-existing medical conditions. A major portion (up to 80%) of private medical insurance premiums has also been tax deductible from German income taxes since 2010.
Government insurance premiums cover you and your non-working dependents, whereas the private medical insurance premium is generally paid for each person to be covered. You can reduce the monthly cost of your private health insurance by agreeing to a deductible (also known as an excess or franchise). German private health insurance companies are not allowed to cancel your policy if you submit claims and are also required to put 10% of your premiums aside as a provision towards keeping the cost stable when you retire.
If you are considering purchasing an expatriate health insurance as a substitute for the government scheme, this could potentially become quite stressful because most of the foreign insurance companies are not registered with the “BaFin” to do business in Germany. Even those that are registered, find that their health insurance plans do not meet the standards set in the new reforms. The crux is that the German government insists that there are no set upper limits on reimbursement levels and there are no annual out-of-pocket deductibles higher than 5,000 Euros. Other issues involve how the insurance premiums are calculated. The present situation is that very few of the major international expatriate health insurers can provide a German language certificate recognized by the immigration authorities in Germany. Whether or not this will change depends on whether Germany fully recognizes European directives for cross-border selling of health insurance for non-Germans seeking a residence permit.
Be careful to avoid limited-term policies with no requirement for medical underwriting. These policies very rarely offer a permanent extension and do not cover pre-existing conditions. If you decide to stay longer than the limited contractual term (anywhere from one to five years) and the health insurance contract expires, it could be both difficult and much more expensive to get new health coverage at that point. In addition, even though you may have purchased such a plan from a German health insurance company before or upon your arrival in Germany, it may not be recognized by the visa authorities and you will be forced to purchase a permanent health insurance plan in order to be permitted to stay. Penalty fees may then apply.
Health insurance is not a commodity to be bought at the cheapest price but rather it is a vital financial support in times of illness or after an accident. Private health insurance policies offer various benefits levels and the scope and quality of the policy wording (terms and conditions) are of utmost importance if you want to avoid any unpleasant surprises if you ever need to claim on your policy.
Additional information for employees
You may choose a private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PKV) instead of the government health plan if your gross salary is higher than 64,350 Euros per year (2021 figures). Self-employed persons, German civil servants and those persons working part-time and earning less than 450 Euros per month (mini-job) are also eligible.
If you are presently in the German public scheme and begin to earn more than 64,350 Euros per year, you can change to private health insurance with two months’ notice because you are no longer a mandatory member of the German public scheme (GKV) or you can remain in the public health scheme with the status of a voluntary member, always paying the maximum premium.
If upon arrival in Germany you wish to be privately insured, you will need to inform your company’s human resources department within 14 days of your employment commencement date to avoid possible confusion; otherwise, you may find yourself automatically registered in the government system. It is your decision and your employer is not allowed to restrict your freedom of choice among the various Krankenkassen or private health insurance providers.
If you purchase a private medical insurance plan from a German health insurance company that provides a certificate recognized by the German government (Paragraph 257 SGB V Arbeitgeberbescheinigung) you may take advantage of the same employer subsidies as a government plan member. This translates to a maximum of 385 Euros per month of employer subsidy towards the cost of your private health insurance policy and up to 74 Euros for your private nursing care insurance. If such certification is not provided, your employer has the option, but is under no obligation, to compensate you for part of the cost of your medical insurance. Most German employers now demand this certificate as proof that your insurance benefits meet the regulations.
Sick Pay Insurance
Should you fall ill while in Germany, your employer will normally pay six weeks’ full salary, after which the government scheme health fund (Krankenkasse) pays up to 70% of your gross income if you are a member of the GKV, (up to a maximum of approximately 3,386 Euros per month) as statutory sick pay (Krankengeld) for up to a maximum of 78 weeks. After social security deductions you would be left with a maximum of approximately 2,970 Euros to finance your normal monthly fixed expenses such as rent, groceries and other insurance policies.
If you are earning more than this per month, after tax deductions, it would be worth considering the purchase of supplemental sick pay insurance, which is available at reasonable rates. This is particularly important if your monthly fixed living costs are higher than 2,970 Euros. If you purchase full private medical insurance, you should also consider purchasing adequate sick pay insurance to meet your living expenses as you will not receive any statutory sick pay from the GKV. Please note that neither the private nor the statutory sick pay covers permanent disability and it is assumed that you will be returning to full employment. You should therefore consider purchasing a separate policy for permanent disability and critical illness.
Cross-Border Care, Travel Insurance and Evacuation Benefits
The German public health insurance system will provide you with limited medical and dental cover for travel within the EU. The EU cross-border regulations came into effect on October 25, 2013. This change meant that public patients can choose to have their medical care in any country in the EU, EEA state or Switzerland and receive a partial reimbursement from their local public insurance fund (i.e. Krankenkasse in Germany). As there are different procedures for hospital and out-patient services please contact your Krankenkasse before embarking on any cross-border medical or dental care. The contact number for the international liaison office: +49 (0)2289530-800 or per email firstname.lastname@example.org
A large percentage of foreign doctors will handle you only as a private patient. You will, however only be reimbursed for the amount that the German public system would have paid for the treatment – sometimes only a fraction of the cost you actually paid. If you wish to be covered for the full amount of any medical outlay or plan to travel to non-EU countries, you should definitely purchase a private travel insurance policy. There are single trip and annual policies to choose from. The German government health system does not cover medical evacuation from any foreign countries. Please note that not all travel insurance policies cover evacuations, so always check the fine print before signing up.
In Germany, dental care can be expensive. For major dental work involving bridges, crowns or orthodontics, you must get a cost estimate and present it to your insurer prior to treatment; otherwise you could be faced with a very high bill to be paid out of your own pocket. If you have doubts about a recommended treatment, get a second opinion. Also please be careful: some dentists may suggest complicated and unnecessary dental work to unwary foreigners. The reimbursement amounts from the public health scheme are calculated based on a fixed price depending on the tooth work to be done and you can expect to pay between 30% and 80% out-of-pocket for dental work if you do not have a supplemental dental insurance policy in place. The fixed price system for pre-authorization of costs uses the absolute minimum standards and does not cover gold, porcelain or other materials. Supplemental dental insurance is worth considering if you would like to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Germany has an extensive network of pharmacies (Apotheken), with branches on just about every second corner in town, easily recognized by a big red “A” or a green cross. The state health insurance scheme (GKV) generally provides reimbursement for prescription generic drugs, though with a co-payment, the scale of which depends on the cost of the medication. The public system is trying to reduce the immense cost of pharmaceuticals and has forced discounts from the large drug companies. The pharmacy must search for the lowest possible price for the generic medication when you present a prescription from the registered doctor as a public patient.
If you are privately insured, brand-name medication will normally be covered, as long as you have a prescription. You will have to pay the full cost of the prescription medicine immediately and then submit the receipts to your insurer for reimbursement. However, do not expect to be reimbursed by either the government or the private health insurance systems for over- the-counter remedies.
Additional information for self-employed, non-employed persons or retirees
It is illegal to be uninsured if you reside in Germany.
If you are basically in good health, you should try to purchase suitable benefits plans from a German private health insurance company willing to accept non-Germans. A qualified and experienced insurance broker specializing in expatriates will help you find the most suitable cover.
If you are self-employed and were already covered by an international insurer before the cut-off date of April 1, 2007, you should check to make sure your coverage is suitable for living in Germany. You will probably need to prove that your insurance is still in force and provide some certification in the German language to the visa authorities.
If you would like to keep the non-German insurance, please note that you must in any event still pay into the government long-term nursing care scheme (Pflegepflichtversicherung) and may also wish to purchase supplemental sick pay insurance. This may be difficult to find as German insurers are not particularly keen on insuring self-employed foreigners.
Finding a suitable health insurance for retirees is a challenge. If you have previously resided in Germany and were then a member of the German public health scheme you may be eligible to re-join. This is often difficult due to the problems of proving a previous membership and the Krankenkassen are anything but helpful. Selecting a private health insurance is also an issue if you have developed a chronic illness, had major surgery or simply due to your age find the premiums unaffordable. It is essential to speak to an independent health insurance broker with experience in this area before spending a great deal of time and becoming totally stressed, preferably before your arrival in Germany. A simple incoming travel health plan which is valid for three months can be a trap.
German private health insurance companies are forced to accept all applicants, irrespective of their health situation, in their “Basistarif” which became available from January 1, 2009, as long as the person is required to provide proof of health insurance, is not eligible for the German public health scheme and has the right to reside in Germany. In other words, if you have a serious pre-existing medical condition and cannot be accepted into normal private health insurance tariffs, you can purchase this tariff as a last resort. It offers similar benefits to the government system and the monthly cost is capped at the maximum rate of the Krankenkasse. Unfortunately, the monthly premium is 770 Euros (2021 figures) for each adult plus approx. 250 Euros for each of your dependent children. In addition you must pay for the nursing care insurance. There is a lot of paperwork in setting up the Basistarif and you may find it difficult to find doctors willing to take you as a new patient because the amounts they may invoice you are very limited.
Additional information for UK citizens in Germany (Brexit)
All UK citizens need to apply for a residence permit within 3 months of arrival in Germany. Those persons who already live in Germany must now apply for a residence permit at the latest by June 30, 2021.
We have been informed that the German public health scheme will no longer accept the NHS membership as a previous EU health insurance and therefore it will not be possible for UK citizens to apply for a voluntary membership as a self-employed, freelancer or retiree because no proof of a previous (EU) public health scheme can be provided.
There may be a small window of joining the German public health scheme as a voluntary member until the end of March 2021 according to some sources. Proof of NHS membership to December 31, 2020 must be provided.
As there is no longer any agreement between Germany and the U.K. regarding reciprocal cost sharing for retirees (E121 or S1 forms) and tourists (EHIC) this could cause problems. U.K. tourists should take out a private travel health plan and not depend on recognition of the EHIC or possible Global Health Card from the UK.
If a UK retiree is receiving a UK State Pension and has been residing in Germany before December 31, 2020 the S1 form means they continue to be entitled to German health care.
If a UK citizen is employed by a German company in Germany, there will be no change to their position because there is either a mandatory membership due to the salary level or the choice between public or private health insurance if the salary level is higher than the threshold of 64,350 € (2021) annual salary.
For those UK citizens not eligible for membership in the German public health scheme the alternatives are a private health insurance plan which meets minimum requirements (Par. 193 VVG) or even better, a German private health plan (Par. 257 SGB V) as that also includes long-term nursing care insurance. The German Basistarif is also a possibility for those persons otherwise uninsurable but allowed to reside in Germany.
Short-term incoming travel health plans or the EHIC will certainly be non-starters if a UK citizen plans to stay in Germany for longer than three months.
(This information is given as of January 6, 2021 and will be updated if any new agreements between Germany and the U.K. are implemented. We take no liability for its completeness or correctness as very little information in writing is presently available and we have received contradictory opinions this week.)
If you work in Germany, you automatically pay towards a few additional forms of insurance besides health insurance through social security contributions (sozialversicherungsbeiträge). These consist of:
- Unemployment insurance (arbeitslosenversicherung) – payments split between employer and employee. This entitles you to unemployment benefits if you are out of work and meet certain criteria.
- Statutory pension insurance (rentenversicherung) – German state pension. See the guide to pensions in Germany for more information.
- Statutory accident insurance (gesetzliche unfallversicherung) – this is completely paid by the employer and covers treatment costs after work-related accidents or illnesses.
Car insurance (Kfz versicherung or autoversicherung) is mandatory for all drivers in Germany. You’ll need to show proof of up-to-date car insurance to register a car in Germany. As a matter of fact, this is necessary to get a valid license plate. Car insurance in Germany falls under one of three types:
- Third-party liability (haftpflicht) – the minimum legal requirement, covering all damage to third parties and other vehicles in the event of an accident. It doesn’t cover damage to your own vehicle if the accident was your fault.
- Partial coverage (teilkasko) – this covers third party liability plus damages to your vehicle caused by things such as theft attempts, fire damage and storm damage.
- Comprehensive coverage (vollkasko) – this covers everything above plus damage to your own vehicle, even in cases where the accident was your fault.
Insurance costs increase in line with the amount of coverage you opt for. They depend on several factors including age, driving experience, driving record, and value of your vehicle. Germany, similar to many other countries, operates a no-claims bonus system meaning that insurance costs reduce the longer you go without having an accident. Car insurance providers in Germany include:
To ensure you get the best deal on car insurance, it’s a good idea to use a comparison website, such as Verivox. Here, you’ll be able to compare premiums from the biggest insurers in Germany. This will give you a better idea of what to expect. For more information on this and more, read our guide to car insurance in Germany.
Optional insurance in Germany
Personal liability insurance
Anyone living in Germany should consider taking out personal liability insurance (private haftpflichtversicherung). This covers injury or damage to other persons or their property. You can get single person coverage or choose to cover additional members of your family. This insurance does not cover damages caused by your car, however; you need to take out a separate vehicle insurance for this.
In German law, there is no limit to the amount someone can claim against you. Personal liability insurance helps avoid the risk of a nasty incident causing great financial harm. There are plenty of expat-friendly personal liability insurance options, including:
Generally speaking, costs are not too expensive for this type of insurance. Indeed, you’ll be able to find good comprehensive coverage for well under €100 a year, so shop around for the best coverage for you.
Household contents insurance
Household contents insurance (hausratversicherung) is not compulsory in Germany. However, you may find that it’s a requirement in rental contacts, especially in furnished properties. This insurance covers damage to the contents of your home due to things such as fire, mains water, storms, theft, and vandalism.
Costs vary depending on the value of your contents and how much you decide to cover. Basic policies are available for less than €50 a year. In Germany, the average cost of replacing all household goods is around €650/m2; it’s advisable to insure to at least this if you have valuable goods. Try to keep a list of all insured items (and receipts if possible) along with photos of more valuable items. In big cities, bicycle theft can be a problem. If you own an expensive bicycle, check whether this can be included or whether you need to take out an additional policy.
Expat-friendly insurance companies that also provide personal property and contents insurance in Germany include:
If you own or are buying a home in Germany, building insurance (wohngebaudeversicherung) is advisable to protect the property against damage from occurrences such as fire, water, storms or vandalism. If you are renting property, this insurance should be taken out by the landlord.
Property insurance normally covers the building walls, floors, roof, basement, and windows (check this as windows are not always covered). You can also include garages, sheds, built-in kitchens, or mailboxes for an additional cost.
Taking out building insurance involves providing the insurer with a lot of information on things such as building measurements, the date your home was built and what building materials were used. Therefore it’s advisable to arrange an appointment with your insurance provider so that they can gather the correct information.
Personal accident insurance
Compulsory accident insurance is paid by the state to workers in Germany. However, the coverage is limited to accidents that occur at (or on the way to/from) work. To insure against injuries that occur out of work, many people take out private accident insurance (unfallversicherung).
This ensures that, in the event of a personal accident that limits your abilities long-term, all costs caused by the accident are covered. These costs can include, for example, care costs or alterations to your home or vehicle. It doesn’t include loss of earnings, which falls under the Occupational Disability Insurance.
When working out how much coverage to have with personal accident insurance, there are different insurance models that pay out different amounts depending on the extent of your disability in the event of an accident.
Different body parts have different values when calculating any pay-out, from loss of a finger (10%) to loss of sight in both eyes (100%). Your insurer will be able to explain the different options in full. Insurance payments are made either as a lump sum, in monthly installments or a combination of both depending on your tariff.
Occupational disability insurance
Occupational disability insurance (berufsunfähigkeit) covers income loss if you are no longer able to earn a living due to accident or injury. If you have been living in Germany for a while and paying into a pension, you will be able to claim a statutory reduced earnings capacity pension (erwerbsminderungsrente) but this only covers a small part of your income loss.
Private occupational disability insurance offers more comprehensive coverage, although the costs are high due to large numbers of people becoming unable to work. Premiums are based on age and risks associated with employment (e.g., roofers and aircraft pilots pay higher rates). Insurers also consider high-risk hobbies.
Life insurance (risikolebensversicherung) covers those left behind in the event of your death. Typically, this is your immediate family but it doesn’t have to be; you can choose who you want to be the beneficiary of the policy. The money is usually paid out in a lump sum and will take care of those financially dependent on you as well as cover outstanding payments such as mortgages and bank loans.
Costs are calculated based on age, medical status, and history, the insurance term (you can choose for payments to cover set periods) and the insurance sum itself. It’s a fairly inexpensive form of insurance and will pay out on most causes of death (unless self-inflicted). It’s one that should only really be considered by those with dependents and/or a mortgage, however.
Legal insurance (rechtsschutzversicherung) covers legal costs such as solicitor and court fees should you end up being taken to, or taking someone else to, court. These costs can be very high; this is an insurance to consider if you don’t want to risk facing huge legal bills somewhere down the line. There are different areas that you can insure (e.g., private, traffic, work, and home). Premiums range from €170 a year to cover one area, to around €340 a year for comprehensive coverage.
Nursing care insurance
If you have state health insurance in Germany, nursing care insurance (pflegepflichtversicherung) will normally be provided along with this. However, the maximum you can currently receive is €2,005 a month. Average nursing home costs in Germany are around €3,000 a month. This means that those with only statutory coverage could need to pay nearly €12,000 a year themselves. Private nursing care insurance covers this difference. As it’s more of a supplementary top-up insurance, the premiums are not too expensive. They could end up saving you a lot of money in your later years.
How does insurance work in Germany?
Insurance in Germany works in the same way as most developed nations
Customers purchase policies for fixed terms with specific benefits. They then pay for these policies via regular premiums. Some forms of insurance can feature flexible premiums, such as life insurance, while others are more rigid.
Health insurance is slightly different to many other nations. All residents of Germany must be enrolled in health insurance schemes, which can be either state provided (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) or private (private Krankenversicherung, PKV).
If you are employed and earn less than €60,000, you will only be eligible for state-provided insurance options. Those earning above that threshold can purchase private policies, as can all self-employed residents. This may deliver savings for healthy individuals. Find out more about health insurance on our German Health Insurance page.
Which types of insurance in Germany are really necessary?
Every person coming to or living in Germany will require their own mix of insurance policies, and as you can see, there are plenty of different forms. If you intend to pursue a medical trade, legal assistance and liability insurance will be essential.
Accident insurance may be advantageous for active sportsmen or drivers, while those who want to explore Europe will benefit from extensive travel insurance policies. Just buy the policies that make sense for your own unique needs.
Health Insurance for Foreigners in Germany
Everyone who enters Germany for whatever purpose or duration of time must be covered by adequate health insurance, either statutory (public) or private, issued by a licensed medical insurance provider.
However, when it comes to travel health insurance for tourists and expats in Germany, different criteria and requirements apply depending on the individual’s purpose of visit, length of stay, or country of citizenship.
Germany Healthcare System
Germany’s healthcare system is recognized to be one of the best in the world. The majority of German citizens and residents are enrolled under the state-run public health insurance scheme, which is funded by taxpayers’ own national contributions. In turn, everyone has access to high-quality and affordable healthcare, regardless of income or status.
However, some also turn to German private insurance, especially those who have a higher salary or want to fill in “gaps” left by public insurance.
Under German law, everyone who is a legal resident in Germany must have health insurance coverage. Germany’s health insurance system is divided into public or “statutory” health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung). The type of health insurance you can get depends on your salary:
- If you earn less than €64,350/year, you can only enrol in the public (statutory) health insurance scheme.
- If you earn less than €64,350/year but are a freelancer, you can opt out of statutory insurance and get a private insurance plan instead.
- If you earn more than €64,350/year, you can either stay on public insurance or switch to private insurance.
Here are some quick facts about the German health insurance system:
Does Germany have universal healthcare?
Yes, all German citizens and legal residents are required by law to have health insurance. Everyone, regardless of their income, has healthcare coverage and access to affordable medical care.
Does Germany have free healthcare?
The public health insurance system in Germany is funded by national contributions, which are automatically deducted from your salary every month, whether you visit a doctor or not. So, while you are mostly exempt from paying for medical treatment if the need arises, you still pay for healthcare through your monthly contributions.
What does health insurance in Germany cover?
Health insurance will cover most of the cost for doctor’s visits, medical and dental treatment, surgery, and prescription medication, but you still have to pay the following:
- Up to €10 per quarter for a doctor visit.
- The first €10 of most prescription medication.
- Approximately €10 per day for hospital stays, for a maximum of 28 days per year.
- The full price for prescription vision aids, such as glasses or contacts.
Can I get both public and private insurance?
If you do not qualify for private healthcare, you can still purchase a private plan as long as it is supplementary. This means that it will give you coverage in the gaps of German public health insurance, such as full reimbursement of medications, private or semi-private hospital rooms, more extensive dental care, etc.
Differences Between Private and Public Health Insurance
Understanding the difference between private and public health insurance in Germany can be a little tricky, especially if you are an expat who is just learning about it. Here is a handy comparison between the two to try and alleviate some of the confusion:
|German Public Health Insurance||German Private Health Insurance|
|On what does the cost depend?||The amount you have to pay monthly depends on your income and can be from 14.6% to 15.6% of your salary per month.Prices do not increase with age.||The cost depends on your age, the coverage you want as well as if you have any pre-existing conditions.If you are young and healthy, it may be relatively inexpensive, but for someone who is older or has a pre-existing condition, the prices may be too high.|
|Who pays the contributions?||If you are employed, you and your employer pay the monthly contributions equally.Freelancers pay their contributions themselves, in full.||If you are employed, you and your employer pay the monthly contributions equally.Your employer may not pay for a health insurance plan if it is supplementary.|
|Are family members included?||Yes, if you have children and a non-working spouse, then they will also use the same health insurance policy as you.You do not need to pay extra for them.||If you want to include your dependents in your health insurance plan, you can.There is an additional fee for each family member you wish to include.|
|Does the amount of coverage change based on your monthly contributions?||No, it does not.Regardless of the monthly contributions/income, everyone has equal access to healthcare.||You have to choose what health insurance policy you want and how much coverage you want.A health insurance plan with a higher policy maximum (thus more coverage) will cost more.So in a way, you do have more coverage if you pay more.|
|Who is it available to?||Everyone, regardless of their income.||Usually, only to individuals with an income higher than €62,550/year, freelancers, and civil servants.|
|In which hospitals can you receive treatment?||You can get medical treatment in all public hospitals as well as the majority of private hospitals.||You can usually receive treatment in both public and private hospitals.|
|Can I have a private hospital room?||No.||Yes.|
|Are pre-existing conditions covered?||Yes, you will be covered even if you have a pre-existing condition.You do not need to pay extra.||Private health insurance companies in Germany are obliged by law to accept clients with pre-existing conditions.However, in most cases, you would have to pay higher monthly contributions.|
|Is there a deductible?||You only have to pay €10 per quarter for doctor’s visits. If you do not visit the doctor that quarter-year, you don’t pay this.||Yes, the deductible depends on the insurance plan you subscribe to.|
|Is prescription medication covered?||Yes, it is.||Yes, it is.|
|How long are waiting times for doctor appointments?||Depending on your situation, you may be expected to wait a few days or a couple of weeks for a doctor’s appointment.||Waiting times tend to be shorter than in public insurance.|
How to Register for Public Health Insurance?
In most cases, your employer will sign you up with a health insurance company. When you move to Germany, you have to register with the German authorities at the local Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt), where you will receive a German social insurance number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). This means that you have started to make contributions to the national insurance scheme.
Next, you have to register with a national health insurance company. Your employer may register you or give you the opportunity to choose.
Once you have signed you with your insurer, you will receive the Health Insurance Card (Krankenversichertenkarte), which you must show when you go to a doctor or hospital for medical treatment.
Some of the best public health insurance companies in Germany (also known as insurance funds) are:
- AOK Baden Württemberg
- TK – Techniker Krankenkasse
- KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse
How to Get Private Health Insurance?
To get privately insured in Germany, you have to contact one of the private health insurance companies. But first, you have to let your employer know you want to unsubscribe to the public insurance scheme, inform your current public insurance fund and start the procedure to unenroll.
If you have not yet enrolled in a public insurance fund, then you must inform your employer that you would rather be covered by private insurance and which company you choose.
Some of the private health insurance companies in Germany are:
Cost of Health Insurance in Germany: Is Public or Private Insurance Cheaper?
You contribute approximately 14.6% to 15.6% of your salary to public health insurance in Germany (e.g.: you pay 7.3%, and your employer matches the other 7.3%). The minimum amount you have to contribute, based on salary, is €180/month, whereas the maximum is around €400/month, regardless of whether your paycheck increases further.
When it comes to private insurance, there is no definite price because it depends on things like your age, whether you have pre-existing conditions, how much coverage you want to have, the deductible, as well as whether you have dependents. The price tags can be significantly different based on these factors.
As to which type of health insurance in Germany is cheaper, it depends on:
- Family members: If you have dependent family members (children or an unemployed spouse), the public health insurance system allows you to add them to your own plan, so they also receive health insurance without any additional costs to you. In the private scheme, you have to pay additional fees for each family member.
- Your age: Since monthly contributions in the public system are based on salary, your age will play no role in the cost. On the private system, on the other hand, companies usually increase prices for older individuals.
- Your health: If you have pre-existing conditions, then public insurance will cover you at no additional cost, while private insurers will usually charge extra. On the other hand, if you are healthy, you can be covered by a private insurance company and pay less than your current contributions.
Can I Opt-Out of Health Insurance?
You cannot opt-out of health insurance entirely – you must always be insured, either privately or through the German state. However, if you have a salary higher than €62,550/year, you can opt-out of public insurance and be covered entirely by a private company.
Remember that once you decide to unsubscribe to public insurance, you may face difficulties trying to re-enrol in the future.
If it’s so good, who do people opt-out of German public health insurance? Many high-income individuals, especially those who are young and do not have children, choose to be covered by private companies since the monthly contributions associated with public insurance can become too high when the salary increases.
Does Health Insurance Cover Giving Birth in Germany?
Yes, the public health insurance scheme in Germany always covers pregnancy, including prenatal care (doctor’s visits, checkups, lab tests, ultrasound exams, etc.), childbirth, as well as postnatal care.
Private insurance companies also cover maternity, but you will have to make sure before you subscribe to a plan because that is not always the case. The amount of coverage you get may also differ from one company to the next.
Does German Health Insurance Cover Medication?
Yes, your health insurance plan covers the cost of prescription medication. If you are enrolled in public insurance, you have to pay the first €10 of each prescription, and then you are covered for the rest. If you are enrolled under a private insurance scheme, you have to pay the cost of the medication yourself, and send the receipt to the company for reimbursement.
Non-prescription medications, such as mild painkillers, flu medicine, etc., are not covered.
Do German Health Insurance Cover Hospitalization Costs?
The public health insurance scheme does not always cover the cost of hospitalization. You will usually have to pay €10/per night for a maximum of 28 days per year. You do not need to pay if your hospital stay exceeds 28 days in a year.
Private insurance can reimburse you the cost of hospitalization, depending on your policy. If you have private insurance, you can also demand a private or semi-private hospital room, which you cannot do under public insurance.
How to Get a Doctor’s Appointment in Germany?
If you know the doctor whom you want to visit, you will have to call or appear at the practice to make an appointment. You usually make the appointment through the doctor’s assistant. You likely have to wait a few days for your appointment unless it is an emergency.
You won’t have an appointed General Practitioner when you get to Germany, so you should do your research beforehand regarding local doctors. One place where you can find doctors is via the Kassenärztlichen Vereinigungen portal (Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Germany). You can enter your place of residence or postcode and even the area of expertise you are looking for, and you will be presented with the relevant doctors/practitioners in your area.
You can also ask the Embassy of your country or the German Embassy when you apply for a visa for a list of General Practitioners.
Germany Emergency Services
The emergency numbers in Germany are:
- Ambulance services and fire brigade: 112
- Police: 110 (although the 112 dispatchers can also connect you to the police if need be)
- To call an emergency doctor: 19 242
- To call a non-emergency doctor on call: 116 117