The Expat Guide to Health Insurance in Germany

Our Expat Guide to Health Insurance in Germany will provide you with everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision of what type of health insurance is best for you and you family.

Did you know that health insurance in Germany ranks number 12 worldwide, and the Euro Health Consumer Index puts it at the top of European countries due to its extensive range of recovery measures?

What makes German health insurance incredible is that you have full access to the healthcare system as an expat in the country, like every other German citizen. Moreover, Germany also requires you to show proof of health insurance while applying for a German visa.

So, let’s explore the German healthcare system and all you need to know to secure a health insurance plan as a new expat in the country:

What to Expect from Health Insurance in Germany

In Germany, health insurance is an obligation, i.e., all residents and expats are required to have some form of medical insurance in Germany. You can register with public health insurance (GVK) or private health insurance. Alternatively, you can choose GVK with supplemental private medical insurance.

Private vs. Statutory Health Insurance in Germany

So, what is the best health insurance in Germany? The answer is entirely dependent on you. That said, most German residents choose public health insurance as the private one requires you to be self-employed, non-eligible for public healthcare, earn more than the required salary threshold, and more. 

The significant difference between these two insurance types is that the bills in public insurance go directly to the insurance company. Still, the privately-insured individuals have to pay the medical bill and then receive reimbursement from the insurance provider. 

What Does Public Health Insurance Cover?

Statutory or public health insurance covers you for the following events:

  • Regular check-ups
  • Medical examination by a registered doctor
  • In- and out-patient care at a hospital
  • Certified sick notes
  • Prescription drugs
  • Pregnancy care
  • Health insurance for non-working dependents, such as children up to a certain age, spouse, and civil partner
  • Statutory sick pay (the employer will pay your wages of up to 6 weeks, and then you can continue to receive 70% of your net salary for a maximum of 78 weeks.

In Germany, public health insurance doesn’t cover prescription glasses or lenses, private hospital room treatment, alternative treatments, dental implants, and consultation hours with private doctors.

As a German citizen or expat living in the country, you need to join an insurance plan. Public/statutory health insurance is the standard plan for anyone earning less than 64,350€ every year. The cost of statutory health insurance will depend entirely on your salary. You will only have to contribute if you earn more than 850 euros a month. 

The health insurance contribution is 14.6% of your gross monthly income. You will have to pay this rate to any public health insurance provider.

However, the great news is that your employer will share half the contribution, i.e., they will have to pay 7.3% of your gross monthly salary with a cap of 4,687.5 euros each month. Your part of the contribution will get deducted from your salary every month. 

All You Need to Know About Private Health Insurance in Germany?

When it comes to private health insurance, you have great packages to choose from, determined by your budget and needs. You can go for the most expensive or the cheapest private health insurance in Germany. Whether you can switch from state to private insurance will depend on your employment status. If you earn more than €64,350 each year, you can apply for a private health insurance plan. 

But if you’re self-employed and earn more than the threshold, you can switch to private insurance. It works best for younger individuals with fewer health issues and significant salaries.

It’s because private insurance premiums are determined by personal factors, such as age, health risks, and family members on the plan. 

With that said, private health insurance does offer more extensive services and lower waiting times. You will also have access to doctors who are not available under a public insurance policy. Since these doctors only see private patients, it results in shorter waiting times. You can also look for a doctor who speaks your language. 

But private insurance in Germany doesn’t cover partners or children for free. Moreover, it requires you to pay the doctor’s fee upfront and then seek reimbursement later, which means you might have to remain on a tight budget after paying a hefty medical bill and waiting for the reimbursement. That said, you will likely get the total amount.

If you want to reduce your monthly premiums, you can choose a deduction fee, i.e., opt for a certain amount that you can pay for your treatments each year. Moreover, you are not obliged to stay with a company for 18 months in private insurance, but each insurance company might have different terms.

Now that you know about both types of insurance, you need to decide which insurance plan works best for you, depending on your salary, needs, and specific budget.

How Do Expats Get Health Insurance in Germany?

Expatriates living in Germany are eligible for state healthcare plans that are funded by social security contributions. Even though the state-sanctioned expat health insurance in Germany is pretty reasonable, if you’re earning well, you might benefit more from private health insurance. 

The German Healthcare System 

Health insurance in Germany is inarguably one of the best around the world. All expats working in the country can access state-supported state healthcare. However, it is mandatory for German residents to have a health insurance plan. 

So, once you become a German resident, you will need to register with a state-sanctioned health insurance scheme known as gesetzliche Krankenkasse, GKV, or a private health insurance scheme known as private Krankenversicherung, PKV. 

Why Do You Need Health Insurance in Germany?

It’s mandatory in Germany for people to show proof of health insurance when applying for a German visa. Most workers remain on their state health insurance in Germany, but you can also opt for private health insurance. Regardless of the policy you have, you and your employer will have to split the contributions.  

State/Public Health Insurance in Germany

The state healthcare scheme in Germany covers almost 90% of its residents. EU and non-EU nationals working in the country should have statutory sickness insurance. The state policy is ideal for covering people who earn less than €64,350 per year. In certain conditions, the policy also covers your spouses, civil partners, and children (up to 23-years-of-age.) Unless their income doesn’t exceed €415–450 per month, they don’t need to pay any contributions. Pensioners are also eligible for state healthcare. 

Here are health insurance criteria for various individuals:


Today, self-employed individuals pay their health insurance contributions on a projected monthly earning of €1,038. It greatly benefits lower-income earners. 


As a student above 25 studying in a state-approved education institute, you will have to pay a health and nursing care premium. The current premium is about €80 per month if you don’t have children. After you turn 30, the premiums will increase by €50 per month. Overseas grad students not covered by their country’s policy can access health insurance from about €25-€30 per month.

Foreign Visitors

EU, EEA, and Switzerland citizens traveling for a short while are allowed health care if they have EHIC before arriving in the country. If you plan to work or stay more than a year, it’s best to arrange health insurance in Germany. Transient visitors from outside the EU can also claim state healthcare under a mutual agreement with their nation. Otherwise, they might have to pay for healthcare services.

What Does German Public Health Insurance Cover?

Here’s everything Germany’s healthcare covers:

  • Inpatient care at the nearest hospital
  • Outpatient care from doctors
  • Limited specialist care
  • Limited mental healthcare
  • Basic costs of pregnancy and childbirth
  • Routine dental procedures (filling, dental hygiene, etc.)
  • Partial coverage for major dental work
  • Sickness benefit (your employer will pay your wages for up to six weeks, the health insurer will pay 70% of your regular salary for 78 weeks)

How to Apply for German Health Insurance

You can apply for Germany’s healthcare scheme through your employer, who will register you with a regional health insurance company. But you can choose your preferred insurer as well. Just inform your employer about your choice within two weeks of starting your job. 

If you’re self-employed, you need to take your passport and residence permit to a regional office and fill out the required registration forms. Make sure to choose an insurer whose contribution rate, ease of contact, supplemental services, and other offers align with your goals. Once you’re insured, the health insurer will issue you an insurance card that you’ll have to show at the hospital on each visit. 

German Private Health Insurance 

As a well-earning self-employed individual or a salaried individual with monthly earnings of more than €5,063, you can look for private health insurance in Germany. But private insurance premiums are based on multiple factors, and the prices increase with health risks, age, and more family members. It’s a great option for a young, well-earning expat in Germany. 

However, if you suffer from serious or chronic health issues, it’s better if you stick to the public healthcare scheme. If you want to change your insurance company, you can do so by giving two months’ notice before the end of the typical 18-month expiry date of the membership.  

Benefits of Private Health Insurance

Here are some benefits of choosing private health insurance in Germany: 

  • More covered services, specialist treatments
  • Private rooms
  • Shorter waiting times
  • More English-speaking doctors

How Does Private Insurance Work in Germany?

If you choose private health insurance, you’ll have to pay your doctor’s fee upfront and claim reimbursement later. You will get the full reimbursement based on your premium. You can choose your level of deduction fee and select a certain amount each year for your treatments. If you choose a higher excess, you can reduce your monthly payments. Moreover, you’re not obligated to stay with the same company for 18 months. 

If you need help deciding between public and private expat health insurance in Germany, MW Expat can help you make the right decision. We have the experience and knowledge required to answer all your questions and dispel all your doubts. So, if you need sound advice and guidance in choosing the right health insurance plan, get in touch with us today

German Healthcare System: Benefits of Living & Working in Germany

If you are planning to move to Germany as an expatriate, it’s imperative to understand the seemingly complex but well-defined German healthcare system. While the overall healthcare in Germany is considered one of the best across the globe, a few ins and outs of the system can be hard to understand for first-timers. With 11.2% GDP spent on health, which is greater than any other EU country, Germany has one of the most effective, resilient, and accessible health care systems across the globe.

German healthcare is powered by a mandatory contribution from the people in the form of health insurance. So, if you’re moving to Deutschland, here’s your guide to the health benefits of living or working in Germany.

Healthcare in Germany: An Overview

The German healthcare system is based on several health insurance plans to meet the financial capacities and medical needs of people. The robust system is known for constantly improving life expectancy in the country. The current average life expectancy in Germany at birth for male residents is 78 and for women is 83.

Built on a multi-payer-based approach, the health care system consists of statutory health insurance and private health insurance. Euro health consumer index ranked German in seventh place for having the most consumer-oriented and restriction-free healthcare system in the EU. In fact, in 2017, the German government had a record reserve of over €18 billion for healthcare, which made it one of the wealthiest healthcare systems across the globe at that time. Germany is known to spend the second-highest per capita amount on health in the EU.

How Healthcare in Germany Works

The first country around the world to establish a national social health insurance (SHI) system in 1883, Germany, quickly developed a dual public-private system to empower healthcare. With heavy reliance on self-governing structures, German healthcare has public health insurance aka the gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or Gesetzliche Krankenkasse (GKV) and a private health insurance Krankenversicherung (PKV). To live in Germany, you are legally liable to have some form of health insurance coverage, either public or private. Healthcare insurance is even essential to start a job or to obtain a visa.

An employer in Germany can hook you up with a health insurance company but if you want to choose your own, you may have to submit medical health insurance before taking a position in a company. Sometimes HR managers tend to register employees in the public health insurance system so it’s important to let them know whether you want public or private insurance.

German Healthcare System: Important Points

  • Is public healthcare free in Germany? Contributions to a German health care provider are mandatory as soon as you have an income above 450€ per month. Recognised and compliant German health insurance has to cover all aspects of health care that can be considered medically necessary. Everything that is considered to be medically necessary is free of charge should you need to use it. Should you want a cover that is over and above medically necessary then it is possible to choose private health care insurance or to top the public up with private supplementary insurance (dental, hospital etc.).
  • What public healthcare cover?Public healthcare covers your basic healthcare needs. Treatments and services such as prescriptions, immunisations, and dental checkups are all included in GKV. Providing this sort of nationwide basic health coverage allows Germany to keep the average healthcare costs to a minimum. The effectiveness of public health insurance in Germany has enabled several developing countries to adopt the same idea.
  • How much will public healthcare cover cost? Depends on how much you earn every month. Healthcare contribution costs in Germany range between 14.6 to 15.6% of your monthly gross income, the maximum amount out of which public health care insurance is calculated from is €58,200€ for the year 2021. The state-run healthcare system will get half of the amount from the employee and the other half from the employer.
  • What is the eligibility criteria for public or private health insurance in Germany?All the salaried workers with a gross monthly income less than 5,362.50 EUR and annual income less than 64,350 EUR must have gesetzliche krankenversicherung or public health insurance.You can later purchase private health insurance additionally if you become eligible. For example, a salary hike can get over 64,350 EUR per year and if you want to avail yourself the private healthcare benefits, you can do so with insurance from a private company.

Private vs Public Healthcare Insurance

When choosing between private or public healthcare insurance, a lot of factors play a significant role, such as:

  • Age
  • Legal status and family situation
  • Salary & occupation
  • Duration of your stay in Germany
  • Services & benefits you want

In PKV or the private sector, you can avail certain medical services faster. However, several things should still be considered such as who is covered or what is covered or what will be the coverage cost. Answering these questions can uncover significant differences between GKV and PKV.

The easily accessible public healthcare insurance covers most people living in Germany. This is due to the fact that private health insurance is mostly available for those exceeding an income of 64,350 EUR per year or the self-employed. While German civil servants are not liable to follow that rule, expats hardly find a job in the civil service.

Fees for private insurance providers are usually less than the maximum premium paid for public insurance, making the former one more attractive and preferred. Private health insurance can be a good option for adults in good health without any kids or who are not planning to stay in Germany. Moreover, having private health insurance can also be an aid to your public insurance plan. There are several benefits of having them together. For instance, you get the option to stay in a single or double room rather than sharing a small room with three to four other beds

Benefits of Public & Private Healthcare

Private Health Insurance:

  • Faster Service
  • Can be quite cheaper than public premiums
  • Access to exclusive healthcare experts
  • You can have multilingual doctors
  • Convenient if you’re on a short stay in Germany

Public Health Insurance

  • Accessible by everyone in Germany
  • Available without the income bar of 64,350 EUR per year
  • Also covers dependent family members (spouse and children)
  • No extra fees required for non-working spouse
  • Your plan includes your children

When Do You Need Private Health Insurance in Germany?

If you are already insured with the state health system, you don’t need private health insurance coverage however, depending on your situation it can be very beneficial.

Private health insurance is more preferred by high-paid professionals, self-employed people living in Germany, and all German civil servants. In the case of civil servants, not everyone is obligated to get state health insurance since the state covers between 50% and 70% of the health care costs. When it comes to freelancers, they can get private insurance irrespective of their income.

Getting insured by a private insurance provider can be a complex process considering a long questionnaire they hand you over regarding your medical history and ask you to submit proof of income.

Unlike the public healthcare system, your employer will not help you through the selection and application process for getting yourself insured privately, there are companies that specialize in helping expats through this process. Health care in Germany is generally of a very high standard but the cover offered through private insurance is usually of an even higher standard. It will certainly help you with quick doctor appointments and medical attention. Also, you can also have doctors speaking your native language throughout the medical care.

When visiting Germany on a visa or with a residence permit, you also have to show healthcare coverage proof. If you’re planning to stay in Germany for a short period, you may benefit more from private health travel insurance but unlike public insurance, you would also need to get your non-working spouse and kids insured too.


Relocating comes with a lot of stress and confusion. The overwhelming process of moving abroad can be daunting without knowing relevant information about the destination country. This guide to the healthcare system in Germany can help you understand the perks of living or working in Deutschland. Our expert advisors are ready to make your settling in Germany seamless. Why not start early and contact us for all the information you need.

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