The Ultimate Guide to German Health Insurance: What You Need to Know 2023

Germany’s healthcare system stands tall among the best in Europe, ensuring top-notch medical services for its residents. With state healthcare accessible to all, funded by social security contributions, the nation leaves no one behind in the pursuit of well-being.

Discover the ins and outs of health insurance in Germany – your ultimate guide to comprehensive coverage! Whether you’re a student, an expecting parent, or a freelancer, we’ve got you covered. Unveil the secrets of the German Health Insurance system and unlock the perks of private insurance tailored just for you.

German Health Insurance

By law, all residents must ensure they’re covered for hospital and outpatient medical treatment, making it an essential requirement when applying for a German visa. Don’t let this vital aspect slip through the cracks, as it can impact your ability to enroll in school, obtain a residence permit, and pave the way for a successful journey in the country.

Will Your Foreign Health Insurance Shield You in Germany?

While the allure of exploring a new country is exciting, it’s crucial to ensure that your health is well protected. For European Union (EU) citizens, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) acts as a temporary shield during your stay in Germany. However, once you settle down and register as a resident, the rules change. 

But what if you’re arriving in Germany from outside the EU? In most cases, having German health insurance becomes a prerequisite for obtaining a residence permit. Don’t fret; our guide will lead you through the process of securing German health insurance seamlessly.

German Public Health Insurance

Germany’s public healthcare system, established in 1883 as Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV), ensures that approximately 90% of residents have statutory health insurance coverage. This includes individuals in paid employment or vocational training, such as trainees and apprentices, with monthly earnings ranging from €520 to €5,550 (as of 2023).

Family members, including spouses, civil partners, and children up to a certain age, can benefit from family co-insurance under specific conditions if they are covered by state healthcare insurance. Dependents typically do not need to pay contributions, as long as their income remains below €520 per month.

Retirees, pensioners, and those receiving unemployment benefits or assistance are also eligible for state healthcare coverage.

What Does German Public Health Insurance Cover?

German public health insurance provides coverage for various essential healthcare services. These include inpatient care at nearby hospitals, ensuring immediate attention during emergencies, as well as outpatient care at medical clinics. Additionally, it guarantees access to necessary medicines and vaccines to support your well-being.

While coverage remains quite consistent across different statutory health insurance providers, with approximately 95% of benefits being the same, there are certain aspects to consider. Public health insurance covers aspects of eye care, dental care, and alternative medicine; however, co-payments are often required, and there may be limitations on the scope of what you can claim.

It’s important to note that if you desire more accessible access to specialists or prefer a private hospital room, you may need to consider a private healthcare plan. Private options also offer more comprehensive mental healthcare options compared to the public system.

Health Insurance for Self-Employed Individuals

Regarding health insurance, self-employed individuals in Germany are not legally obligated to enroll. However, it’s important to note that foreign nationals relocating to Germany from abroad are required to have health insurance coverage.

For self-employed individuals or freelancers working in Germany, there are specific regulations regarding public health insurance. The monthly cost of your health insurance is determined by a percentage of your monthly income, meaning that the lower your earnings, the lower your contribution.

Referred to as the “contribution rate,” the monthly fee for public health insurance only varies slightly among different statutory providers. On average, you can expect to pay around 14.90% to 15.40% of your monthly salary for public health insurance coverage. It’s worth noting that the minimum monthly salary for mandatory public health insurance contributions is €1131.67 (as of 2023), while any income exceeding €4987.50 per month incurs the same contribution rate.

Navigating health insurance as a self-employed individual can be complex, but understanding the guidelines and costs will empower you to make informed decisions about your coverage. 

Health Insurance For International students

In fact, German universities mandate that students provide proof of health insurance before they can enroll and begin their academic journey.

For international students under the age of 30 pursuing Bachelor’s or Master’s programs at German universities, public health insurance is available. However, it’s important to note that enrollment is not automatic. These students need to manually sign up with a statutory health insurance company. Unlike contributions based on salary, students pay a monthly fee of approximately €117, depending on their chosen provider. This ensures access to comprehensive healthcare services throughout their studies.

Students who are over 30 years old or enrolled in a Ph.D. program are not eligible for state health insurance coverage. Nevertheless, they still need to demonstrate proof of insurance during the enrollment process. In such cases, it is advisable for students to opt for private health insurance providers, such as Allianz Care.

Fortunately, certain countries have agreements with Germany that allow their national health insurance to be recognized and accepted within German borders. Students originating from these countries do not need to obtain separate insurance coverage:

  • European Union member states
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Liechtenstein
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

Maternity Care in Germany

When it comes to maternity care, state health insurance in Germany typically covers the essential expenses associated with prenatal care and childbirth. However, it’s important to note that more complex procedures, such as fertility treatments, may require a co-payment.

To support families during the post-natal period, most public insurance companies provide a bonus ranging from €100 to €300 when a baby is born. This financial assistance helps alleviate some of the post-natal costs that parents may incur.

If you opt to give birth in a private hospital, it’s crucial to verify whether your insurance provider covers these expenses. Additionally, it’s advisable to research and understand the potential costs associated with the baby’s delivery and care in such a setting.

Best Private Health Insurance for Expats in Germany

If you’re considering private health insurance in Germany, several reputable companies cater specifically to ex-pats and offer comprehensive coverage:

Is Private Health Insurance Right for You?

Private health insurance in Germany is chosen by approximately 1 in 10 residents, and the market consists of around 40 companies offering diverse packages to cater to different budgets and lifestyles. Not everyone is eligible to switch from the state or public system to private insurance, as it depends on your employment status and income.

Generally, if your annual income falls below €66,600 (as of 2023), you are required to remain on the statutory or public system. However, there are several scenarios where private insurance may be an option:

  • Self-employed individuals: Those who work for themselves have the freedom to choose private health insurance.
  • Civil servants: Civil servants are typically eligible for private insurance coverage.
  • High earners: If your income exceeds the salary threshold, you have the option to opt for private insurance.
  • Ineligibility for state insurance: If you don’t have a basis to join a state insurance scheme, private insurance becomes a viable alternative.
  • Students over 30 or pursuing a Ph.D.: Students in this category may not qualify for state insurance and can consider private options.

While private health insurance offers various advantages, it’s important to carefully consider your decision. Premiums for private insurance are determined based on personal factors, and costs tend to increase with age, health risks, and the inclusion of additional family members. 

Moreover, individuals with certain medical conditions may face challenges in being accepted by private insurers. In such cases, a basic tariff (Basistarif) is available, which obligates private insurers to accept all cases under the same conditions as the statutory system.

Ultimately, the decision to switch from public to private health insurance should be based on a thorough evaluation of your specific needs, financial circumstances, and eligibility criteria.

Private health insurance companies in Germany

A number of private health insurance companies operate in Germany, including:

  • Allianz Care
  • Cigna Global
  • DFV
  • Feather
  • Ottonova

The Cost of German Health Insurance

In Germany, healthcare costs are covered through social security contributions, and the administration of state healthcare access is handled by approximately 120 insurers.

For employed individuals, a portion of their net income is allocated to healthcare contributions since 2015. The total contribution amounts to 14.6% of their income, with employers sharing this cost, resulting in employees paying around 7.3%. These contributions are automatically deducted from salaries as long as individuals are employed.

In addition to the standard contribution rate, German state health insurers may also impose an additional contribution rate. This rate can vary from year to year based on healthcare expenditure. In 2021, the average additional contribution rate across all public insurers stood at 1%. It’s important to note that your insurance provider is required to inform you of any changes in their contribution charges.

By understanding the structure of healthcare contributions in Germany, individuals can better comprehend the financial aspects of their health insurance coverage.


The German insurance system provides a comprehensive framework for ensuring access to healthcare services. With a combination of public and private options, residents can choose the coverage that best suits their needs. Statutory health insurance offers broad coverage for the majority of the population, while private insurance caters to specific situations and preferences.