German Healthcare Terms Expats Should Know

For expats residing in Germany, it is helpful to learn some of the key German healthcare terms so that you are able to make informed decisions regarding your health and wellbeing both during and after you move.

Moving to a foreign country can be daunting, especially when you don’t know much about the new land’s laws and regulations. On top of that, if you are not well-versed with the language of your new country of residence, you are bound to feel confused and most likely overwhelmed.

Keeping that in mind, we decided to share everything about the German healthcare system for expats living in Germany. Germany has one of the oldest healthcare systems in Europe, dating back to the 1880s, and is now ranked among the best in the entire European region. Anyone living in the country can access the medical facilities offered by the state through health insurance Germany

Sponsored by state-funded programs, healthcare in Germany is accessible to all. But that’s not all; people can (and do) acquire some of the best private health insurance policies in the country to bear expenses not covered by the statutory funds, such as advanced dental procedures. 

German Healthcare Terms Expats Should Know

Here are some German healthcare and related terms you should know as an expat:

  • Arzt (doctor) 
  • Hausarzt (GP, primary care doctor, family doctor)
  • Überweisung (referral from your GP to a specialist)
  • Rezept (prescription)
  • Krankschreibung or Attest (sick note)
  • Zahnarzt (dentist) 
  • Krankenhaus (hospital)
  • Patient (patient)
  • krank (sick)
  • Medizin or Medikament (medicine)
  • Öffentliches Krankenhaus (public hospital)
  • Frei gemeinnütziges Krankenhaus (non-profit hospital)
  • Privatkrankenhaus (private hospital)
  • Apotheke (pharmacy)
  • Heilpraktiker (alternate practitioner/naturopath)
  • Notaufnahme (emergency room)
  • Rettungswagen (fire brigade ambulance service)
  • Krankenwagen (ambulance)
  • Impfung (vaccine)
  • Krankenkasse (health insurance provider)
  • Krankenversichertenkarte (health insurance card)
  • Sozialversicherungsnummer (social security number)
  • Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (statutory health insurance/public health insurance)
  • Private Krankenversicherung or PKV (private health insurance)

Now that you know about the common German healthcare terms, let’s understand German healthcare.

Understanding Health Insurance in Germany

While the statutory programs take care of all medical health expenses residents incur the country, they need to pay some premium for that. 

The GKV program is managed by 110 Krankenkassen (non-profit organizations that overlook GKV). Once registered with GKV, a person has to pay a premium at the rate of 14.6% of the annual gross salary (7.3% paid by the employee, the other 7.3% taken care of by the employer). All Krankenkassens must charge the same percentage of a beneficiary’s gross yearly salary. If you are asked for more, know that something is not right. 

The amount an employee has to pay for the GKV scheme cannot exceed 4350 euros a month, which is shared equally by the employee and employer. 

Once you have registered with a particular Krankenkassen, you must stay with it for at least 18 months. After the 18 months have passed, only then can you go to a different organization. 

GKV Coverage

As mentioned earlier, GKV or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung is a federal scheme to facilitate people residing in Germany in getting access to public health. This means, if you want to get state-provided medical benefits, you must sign up with a Krankenkasse. That said, not all medical expenses are covered by said state healthcare program. 

You will receive free services from registered doctors, hospital care (both in- and out-patient) and basic dental treatment. For any advanced medical treatment, you may have to get private medical insurance or pay out of pocket

One other thing about getting registered with a Krankenkasse for GKV is that it will look after the expenses of all the non-working family members residing with you in Germany. You will not have to pay any added amount for getting the medical costs of your dependent kin covered by GKV, provided that they live with you. 

For availing the benefit of having your family’s medical expenses taken care of under GKV, you and they should share the same address that you have given to the Krankenkasse dealing your case. 

Getting German Health Insurance

Expats and permanent residents in Germany can take out public health insurance by following these steps. 

  • Registering at a nearby town hall
  • Once you are registered with the German authorities you will get a social security number, aka Sozialversicherungsnummer as called in the German language. 
  • Next you will begin paying the standard premium and have access to all public medical care amenities. 
  • You should then sign up with a local insurance fund that will provide you with a card. You will have to carry it with you to every doctor’s appointment or visit to the hospital. 

Since public health doesn’t cover all medical expenses, such as cosmetic treatments, some people choose to get private insurance. But not everyone can take it out. There are a bunch of terms and conditions that must be fulfilled if a person wishes to have private medical coverage. 

Choosing Between Private and Public Medical Insurance In Germany

By law, every person residing in Germany needs to take out private or public medical insurance. But which option of the two you pick will depend on your job status and earning. 

Statutory Healthcare in Germany is classified as compulsory (pflichtversichert) health insurance, voluntary (freiwillig versichert) health insurance and getting insured under a family plan. This classification only applies to the public scheme. As the name gives away, the former category is for people who must sign up for public health insurance or GKV while the latter is for those who are free to choose their insurance plan (between private and public). 

Who Has To Apply For Compulsory Insurance?

Compulsory public health insurance is for employees who earn less 64.350 euros per year. If your annual salary doesn’t add up to 64.350 euros or more, you are bound by law to take out a public health fund. 

Who Can Get Voluntary Insurance

Everyone who doesn’t qualify for compulsory insurance automatically becomes eligible for voluntary insurance. Still, here is a quick rundown of people who meet the criterion for freiwillig versichert. 

  • People earning more than 64.350 euros a year
  • Self-employed people or freelancers
  • Students 
  • Stay-at-home family members, primarily spouses. 

What Does Private Insurance Cover

Like in pretty much all other countries, private healthcare insurance covers a larger array of medical expenses, depending on the policy you take out. 

Beneficiaries can get a mix and match of benefits from private insurance based on their needs as you can get coverage for anything and everything. 

Some people like to have a better dental coverage program while others might go for having private rooms or even both. One of the most appealing aspects of private medical insurance is that you can get appointments with specialists much faster than if you are under public health coverage. 

In the public scheme, or GKV, patients will have a general physician or primary care doctor (Hausarzt) assigned to them, which they can choose themselves. This doctor will examine patients and refer them to specialists if need be. 

But since specialists typically have appointments lined up for months in advance, people with public health insurance have to wait for their turn, which can take a while.  

Hospital and Other Medical Services in Germany

If you are registered under GKV, you can access all public healthcare facilities as a German citizen. 

Whether you have public medical insurance or took out private insurance, you should have some basic idea about the hospitals and medical facilities in Germany. To educate you on the topic, here is a quick overview of healthcare organizations in the country.

There are three types of hospitals (Krankenhäuser) in Germany

  • Public, owned and managed by government authorities
  • Non-profit, owned and managed by charitable organizations or churches
  • Private, owned and run by a private association. 

Mother Care and Pregnancy Care Services

Since going through pregnancy and subsequent childbirth is arguably the most common medical need, knowing about the services available for it is important. 

All pregnancy related issues are covered by public health insurance, including sexual, fertility and urological matters. On the contrary, in the case of private insurance, some pregnancy-related expenses may not be covered, depending on the program you choose. So, be sure to go through all your options and pick the best program for yourself. 

Contraceptive items, such as birth control pills, and IUDs must be prescribed by a gynaecologist while emergency contraceptives can be bought over the counter. 

Ending Note

The German healthcare system is among the most advanced in the world. If you want to have access to it, be sure to sign up for medical insurance, private or public, as early as possible. And if you are an expat living here, look up expat health insurance Germany to not miss out on any healthcare amenities and services. 

Public or Private Health Insurance in Germany: Which Is Better for Expats and Why?

As an expat in Germany, getting health insurance is a crucial part of securing the best healthcare for yourself. Not only is it a requirement, but opting for public or private health insurance can make all the difference.

Expats are eligible for State healthcare, but it’s not as comprehensive as some private policies that can help you get various health-related treatments that are within your insurance policy.

Of course, there are additional costs to bear, but it could also help you save money in the long term. So, regarding expat health insurance in Germany, we’ll help you decide whether private service or public is a good option for you based on your needs. Here’s what you should know. 

Private vs Public Health Insurance?

Some people living in Germany do not have the choice of opting for the best private health insurance. So, if they earn less than €64,350 in a year, they cannot opt for private insurance. They will need to continue using public health insurance. This is applicable to both expats and locals. 

However, if you earn more than that figure annually, you can choose between the best private health insurance in Germany or public insurance. There are some reasons why you may want to opt for private insurance. Here’s what they are. We also mention one advantage that’s worth noting if you choose public insurance. 

Private Health Insurance Has More Coverage than Public Insurance

Public insurance covers only limited healthcare treatments. There’s also only basic coverage for dental work. On the other hand, private health insurance can offer a variety of additional forms of healthcare coverage based on your needs.

More coverage could increase the price of your policy, so you can choose coverage for only those treatments that you feel you will need at that moment or in the future. In any case, the coverage for the following is comprehensive with private health insurance as opposed to only basic coverage with public insurance. 

  • Treatment coverage 
  • Dental care
  • Medication 
  • Contacts and Glasses
  • Alternative Treatment 

Private Health Insurance Can Limit Waiting Times for Appointments with Specialists  

With public health insurance, people may have to wait for months until they can get an appointment with a specialist (if they want that to be covered). This is because there are long waiting lines, and you will have to wait on the list. However, private insurance can cut down on those waiting times by allowing only short notice periods. 

Private Health Insurance Allows You to Choose Your Private Specialists and Hospitals

You get to choose both the doctors and the hospitals with a private health insurance policy. With a public insurance policy, you will have to use whatever the state gives to you. 

Private Health Insurance Can Have Coverage Outside of Germany

If you’re an expat who travels a lot, you can certainly benefit from private health insurance. This is because public insurance is geographically limited to Germany and the EU only, while many private health insurance policies offer coverage in different parts of the world. Therefore, you will be protected even if you get sick and receive treatment from a country outside the EU. 

Public Insurance Does Not Have Upfront Costs

One important advantage that public insurance has over its private counterpart is there are no upfront costs of treatments that are covered. However, with a private insurance policy, you will need to pay the charges upfront and then have them reimbursed. That said, you will limit your treatment options and the healthcare facilities when you opt for public insurance. 

When to Choose Private or Public Health Insurance in Germany

Whether you choose private or public insurance will depend on what type of coverage you need for insurance. If you typically don’t have medical bills that are anything more than what’s included in basic coverage, you don’t have to opt for private service.

However, if you want extended dental coverage or coverage for treating chronic conditions, then private insurance is the way to go. 

Opting for private health insurance when public insurance doesn’t cover what you need can help you save a lot of money in the long term. Certain medical procedures can be expensive, and your insurance will ensure that you don’t go broke trying to stay healthy. 

It’s important to note that the coverage can vary from one private health insurance policy to another. So, be sure to review your policy carefully to ensure that it covers the specific treatments that you need. This way, you won’t have to pay for those treatments out of pocket, which, in some cases, can be fairly expensive. 

Last Few Words

The best private health insurance in Germany should be one in which you have all the coverage you need within and outside of Germany. Of course, it should also be affordable so that it makes it worth it. 

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.

Things to Consider When Choosing Health Insurance in Germany

If you are moving to Germany, we can help you with the daunting task of picking healthcare insurance that suits your medical needs. Here are the things that expats should consider before choosing health insurance in Germany.

Who would not like living in a highly developed, clean, and orderly country where everything runs on time, people respect the environment, and infrastructure is great? If you are planning to move to Germany, you are in for a truly incredible experience in a country where up to 46% of power comes from clean energy sources. Apart from all these perks, Germans believe in an “all for one, one for all” health care approach.

Back in the day, German craftsmen used a great way to keep their team members healthy. They paid into one account and used the money if someone needed medical attention for a certain condition and suffered financial hardship.

The ideology still lives in their healthcare system since 84.5% of health spending is funded by the people living or working there. There are two types of healthcare insurances in Germany- public and private. While most people are insured under one of them, many people use private supplementary cover to “upgrade” the public health care insurance to get all the perks of private insurance missing from a public insurance policy.

Your Income

Most public health insurance providers charge 14.6% of your gross income as the basic premium. Your income plays a vital role in what kind of health insurance you can take. If you are earning less than €64,350 per year or €5,362 per month, you must be a part of the government health system. Also known as Statutory Health Insurance or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV), this non-profit insurance covers almost 90% of Germany’s people.

Administered by a team of 103 Krankenkassen in 2021 (non-profit insurers are legally obliged to accept insurance applications and sell GKV health insurance to the Germans or expats in Germany if they earn under the threshold of 64,350€ per year or are not self-employed), the public health insurance in Germany costs 14.6% of your gross income plus a supplemental charge of roughly 1.1% depending on the chosen provider. The cap set for maximum monthly income remains €4,837 per month in 2021. In case you start earning more than the set threshold, you are not required to pay a higher premium. For instance, if you pay the maximum insurance premium, which will be €770 for the income threshold this year, you will be required to pay €385, whereas your employer will be paying €385.

While 90% of the German population is insured under public health insurance, around 10% have private Krankenversicherung (PKV). There are around 40 private health insurers in Germany that charge premiums according to your entry age, your current health state, and the level of health insurance cover that you would like.

Pre-Existing Health Conditions

When you go for public health insurance, pre-existing medical conditions will never be an issue. However, it can make a huge difference when you sign up for private health insurance. While private health insurers cannot deny insuring anyone with a pre-existing condition due to the defined rules, they can however charge an extra risk premium or only offer very basic cover in line with the public insurance.

Medical Benefits

Public health insurance in Germany covers the following medical benefits:

  • In-patient care as a ward patient in a hospital
  • Out-patient care from a general practitioner or specialist (such as a gynaecologist)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Basic dental care
  • Pregnancy care
  • Employee sick note
  • Statutory Sick Pay when the employer’s duty to pay it is over (up to 90% of your net salary)

Private health insurance coverage also gives you a ton of benefits. It covers everything offered under the statutory health insurance plan alongside providing access to all the sectors of the German healthcare system. It includes doctor visits, health checks, specialist treatments, dentistry, hospital treatment, prescription & medicines, single or double rooms in hospitals, and more. You can tailor your health insurance privately as per your requirements and pick any of the following additional benefits to include in your plan:

  • Additional dental care such as a professional dental cleaning
  • Consultation doctors
  • Private hospital rooms
  • Sickness or child sickness benefits
  • Rather than a family doctor, get direct access to specialists
  • Alternative medicine
  • Fixed-rate premiums with zero impact of your increasing age
  • Reduced voluntary excess

How Family Insurance Works

If you have statutory health insurance coverage, your family members, including kids and spouse, are also eligible for free-of-cost insurance under certain conditions. If your partner or children are not earning an income themselves of more than 450€ per month, they can be covered under your insurance coverage.

Switching Your Insurance Provider

Even if you start earning more due to a salary raise, the monthly premium will remain the same. While the minimum period for government health insurance with any Krankenkasse is 18 months before you can switch to another public insurer, you can switch to a private health insurer with a 2-month notice period if you are eligible.

It’s Importance

It’s common to see non-Germans treating health insurance as a commodity to buy for a low price to be eligible to live in Germany. The purpose of getting you and your family insured is the vital financial support it can offer you when time is harsh. If you are going to Germany for some time and want health insurance, avoid limited-term policies. These policies come without medical underwriting requirements and thus, do not cover any pre-existing problems that may disturb you during your stay.

Even if there’s a minute possibility that you may have a more extended stay than the limited contractual term and your health insurance expires, it may get complex and expensive for you to get a new contract in Germany. Check the various benefit levels that private health insurance companies offer and pick your plan wisely


Here we conclude the things you may have to consider before getting health insurance coverage in Germany. Make sure to stay insured as an expat in Germany to avoid any unpleasant surprises and complications when reapplying for your visa.

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