Germany has two types of health insurance schemes: the statutory (public) health insurance and the private health insurance.
The healthcare system is part of social security in Germany. Health insurance is mandatory for all residents, i.e. also for students from abroad while they are studying in Germany. Students may choose between a statutory and a private health insurance. They must have taken out health insurance cover before they may enrol at a university and have to present the relevant confirmation on registration at the university.
Health insurance is a safeguard against costs for medical treatment in case of an illness or an accident.
Before entering the country
You can already apply for health insurance in Germany before entering the country. However, the cover only starts when you commence your course of study, i.e. with the beginning of the semester.
Therefore, you must take out a travel insurance if you want to have health insurance when coming to Germany. Please see below about the regulations applying to students from EU member states and those countries Germany has agreements on social security with.
German health insurances will usually send you the documents required for registration at a university after your online application. We recommend that you contact the selected insurance provider for further information. They will be happy to assist you.
Statutory (Public) Health Insurance
Most German people have taken out health insurance with one of approx. 120 statutory health insurance funds. These are all non-profit organisations.
Health insurance cover includes medical treatment in case of illness or accident, including hospital treatment, medical check-ups, the freedom to choose a statutory health insurance doctor, dental care. A prescription charge for certain treatments or medicines may have to be paid. Insurees only have to show their electronic Health card and doctors and hospitals will invoice their costs directly with the health insurance fund.
Health insurance funds are obliged to accept every customer.
Compulsory health insurance has to be taken out by students up to the age of 30 or the completion of the 14th academic semester. Students are offered health insurance cover at reduced contribution rates. After the end of compulsory cover, they can then take out their own insurance cover with the social health insurance fund they have already been insured with as students.
Requirements for membership:
- Membership application
- Bank details of a German bank account
- Passport photograph
- Enrolment certificate
- German address, if already available, otherwise the address of the university
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Private Health Insurance (PKV)
Some German people prefer to have private health insurance cover. Anyone who wishes to take out private health insurance must undergo a health check. Contributions are calculated based on the income, the age and the results of a health check. The monthly contributions may rise in case of a serious illness. Any treatment or medication has to be paid in advance and will then be reimbursed by the insurance provider.
If you apply for private health insurance, you have to provide a confirmation that you do not have statutory health insurance cover. You also have to provide financial evidence per semester at the university. The amount required for this evidence differs among universities.
Recognition of foreign health insurance
Students from EU member states do not require additional health insurance cover in Germany. They only need their European Health Insurance Card: EHIC. The EHIC gives access to medical treatment should it become necessary. Holders can directly see a statutory health insurance doctor. However, the insurance in the member state may not cover all the costs possibly arising in Germany. We recommend verifying the scope of cover and entitlement with your health insurance. The foreign insurance company may offer an additional health plan to cover the costs of German services, if necessary.
Nationals from EEA countries, Switzerland and countries that have a social security agreement with Germany usually do not have to take out health insurance cover in Germany as well. We recommend getting in touch with the insurance provider for verification.
Some private insurances may also be accepted in Germany. Please contact your insurance provider for details. In this case, it is not possible to change to statutory health insurance in Germany.
Students from other countries must apply for health insurance cover in Germany. They may choose either statutory health insurance for students or private health insurance at reduced contribution rates for students, if they are under the age of 30 and have not finished their 14th academic semester. They then have to take out their own health insurance at regular contribution rates.
Health insurance cover continues during mandatory internships if you stay registered at your university.
You have to take out insurance as an employee during a voluntary internship if your income exceeds 450 euros because this is not considered a “mini-job”. You are then subject to compulsory health and long-term care insurance.
Unpaid internships before or after enrolment are subject to compulsory health and long-term care insurance.
Switching between PKV and GKV
Changing from private to the statutory health insurance is normally not possible after enrolment, since you are then bound by your choice.
It is possible to switch between the insurances, if you are not yet registered at university. Contact the chosen insurance provider before doing so. They will give you assistance. The former insurance company is then obliged to reimburse you for the contributions made.
In case you have not been enrolled at university for the duration of a semester and did not attend any courses during the same time you can change health insurances as well. Get in contact with the insurance provider you want to take out insurance cover with. They will be happy to be of assistance.
Individuals who are attending a preparatory college must take out private health insurance and cannot get statutory health insurance cover.
Should you then register at a university it is possible to change to a social health insurance fund.
Note: Insurance has to be taken out prior to enrolment.