Expats in Germany are spoilt for choice when it comes to health insurance. Are you looking for German health insurance for foreign nationals? Then read this overview of expat health insurance in Germany (and what might work best for you!).
Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living in Germany. This obligation is called Versicherungspflicht. Expats in Germany can choose between the statutory (aka public) health insurance or private health insurance.
It is hard to say which type of expat health insurance in Germany is best for foreign nationals but it strongly depends on the personal, professional and family situation of the individual.
Note: You can read the 2020 update of health insurance for freelancers in Germany HERE.
In this post, I have described an overview of the German Health Insurance for expats in Germany
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Types of Health Insurances for Expats in Germany
Expats in Germany can either become a member of the statutory health insurance or take out private health insurance.
Those who are employed full-time or insured under family insurance subject to compulsory social insurance have a choice between
- Expat health insurance
- Statutory health insurance
- Private health insurance
Let’s take a look at all of them in detail:
Expat Health Insurance in Germany
If you are in Germany for a short-term i.e less than FIVE years, it might be better to take out an expat health insurance in Germany.
There are several providers that offer comprehensive German health insurance for foreign nationals living here. Expat health insurance in Germany tends to have lower tariffs and shorter coverage period – generally maximum of five years.
Below are some popular and well-known expat health insurance plans in Germany.
Care Expatriate is for anyone who intends to stay in Germany for more than 6 continuous months.
This insurance protects you against the costs of medically necessary treatments – starting at €58 per month!
You can apply directly online, quickly and easily. Any citizen of a 3rd country who is staying in Germany can take coverage of Care Expatriate.
The minimum duration of this coverage is 6 months. If you live in Germany you can get health insurance coverage for a maximum of 5 years.
There are three types of Care Expatriate tariffs – Basic, Comfort and Premium. All these tariffs provide various health care coverages and have varying monthly premiums.
Ottonova Expat Tariff
ottonova’s Expat Tariff provides premium coverage to keep you healthy and stress-free throughout your stay in Germany.
For non-German speakers, ottonova’s concierge service is incredibly helpful in scheduling the appointments and more importantly making sure they are matched with English speaking doctors.
It’s definitely more expensive than other expat insurances, but it is still a great option, especially factoring in the convenience that comes with the English speaking concierge service.
NOTE: Only expats from non-EU countries can take out cover under ottonova’s Expat Tariff – for a maximum of five years.
Feather Expat Health Insurance
Feather’s expat health Insurance covers expats and freelancers who don’t yet have full-time employment in Germany. Basically, anyone applying for a German visa or residence permit needs health insurance can apply for Feather’s expat health insurance plan starting at €72 a month.
Feather’s expat health insurance is a great solution for your first year or two in Germany. Their affordable coverage also fulfils the legal requirements for obtaining a visa or residence permit.
This comprehensive expat health insurance plan covers any accidents and emergencies, serious illness, transportation by ambulance to a medical facility, repatriation in particularly serious cases, dental check-ups, and more.
You can easily sign up for Feather’s expat health insurance online from their website. The entire process is expat-friendly and in English. Payments are made month-to-month. You also have the option to cancel anytime with just one click.
Private Health Insurance for Expats in Germany
Private health insurance for expats in Germany is open to almost all occupational groups.
Around nine million people in Germany have opted for private health insurance (PKV). There are various factors that are taken into account for joining private health insurance provider.
- Your age
- Your general health condition
- Your profession
- Your or your family’s medical history (This is relevant for those who have dependents)
- Any preexisting health conditions or certain health risks
With very flexible options, expats in Germany can take out a private health plan that is individual to their personal needs and their chosen benefits, including the associated costs.
Expats interested in private health insurance can choose between more than 40 providers and hundreds of monthly plans for private health insurance. For a preselection, it is, therefore, useful to concentrate on the offers that are tailored to the personal requirements of health insurance.
Even though private health insurance is advantageous for expats most of the time, switching back from a private scheme to statutory health insurance is very hard, except for in some special cases.
NOTE: Expats usually need to pass a medical examination in order to get approved for private health insurance in Germany.
Ottonova Premium Economy Class/ Business Class/ First Class
ottonova has various full insurance options for long term expats in Germany.
If you plan on staying in Germany for longer than five years, you can choose between ottonova’s Premium Economy Class, Business Class and First Class. Their monthly tariffs start from as little as 165 € per month.
These monthly premiums are dependent on the chosen coverage, your age at entry, and state of health. Even though all plans have different rates, you can always be sure to receive extensive coverage including inpatient, outpatient, dental, vision, out-of-pocket max. and much more.
If you prefer an easy-to-use solution with communication in English, no unnecessary paperwork, bureaucratic hassle and an app-based interface, ottonova is a great, hassle-free option that’s easy to sign up for.
Their English-speaking customer service team can help you find the best option for your personal needs.
Related: If you need mental health care in Germany, read this and learn how to reimburse your therapy’s costs by your German health insurance provider
Statutory Health Insurance for Expats in Germany
Statutory health insurance (GKV) is part of the German social insurance system. There are around 110 statutory health insurance schemes, some of which differ significantly in price and benefits.
There are over 70 million people with statutory health insurance. About 51 million members pay contributions. The rest are insured free of charge, for example through family insurance.
Below are the top three public health insurance providers in Germany.
Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)
Founded in 1884, TK or Techniker Krankenkasse is currently the largest provider of the statutory health insurance provider in Germany. It registers about 10.4 million insured people.
TK is very popular amongst expat community because it has been known to provide services in English.
Like most other insurance providers in Germany, TK covers the costs of your doctor visits, treatments, medications and other types of care. Although some parts of your care (i.e. special medications and treatments) might be subject to additional costs or contributions.
Anyone can apply for TK coverage – students, employees, pensioners and self-employed people qualify for TK’s coverage.
As is the case with public health insurance in Germany, TK costs are also determined by your monthly income.
On the second position is Barmer GEK with about 9.2 million members in Germany. I have been with Barmer since 2014 and have had no issues with their services (so far anyway).
As of late, Barmer has also launched an English support hotline for their non-German speaking customers. It is available 24/7 to provide direct, expert assistance about your health insurance coverage. You can even call this hotline from abroad.
Besides this, there are a number of perks of being a Barmer customer.
They offer up to 100 euros cashback each year to members who can demonstrate a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Generally, gym membership, a healthy BMI score, or maintaining regular check-ups are rewarded.
3rd place goes to DAK-Gesundheit (5.7 million). DAK offers many attractive additional benefits such as travel vaccinations, optional tariffs and bonus programmes – such as:
- 120 euros for the fitness studio, a fitness tracker or the sports club.
- Professional tooth cleaning subsidised by up to 60 euros a year.
- Travel vaccinations where they pay 90 per cent of the costs of your travel vaccinations.
At DAK Gesundheit, the contribution rate is 16,1% of gross salary. In Germany, the contribution to the statutory health insurance is paid half by the employee and half by the employer. In addition, there is a contribution to the statutory nursing care insurance.
Cost of Health Insurance for Expats in Germany
The cost of health insurance for foreign nationals can vary from the system, employment status and other factors such as family status, age etc. Here is a brief explanation of the tariffs of private and public health insurance plans in Germany.
Monthly tariffs for statutory health insurance
The contribution to statutory health coverage is determined on the basis of the monthly income earned by the expat. However, there is a minimum contribution that has to be paid, even if you earn little or nothing at all.
As far as the monthly cost is concerned, this is capped at the monthly maximum rate for public health insurance.
Expats can expect to pay about 14.6 % of their income up to a maximum income limit (€56,250 per year).
The overall employer contribution is 50 %. In addition, each public health insurance provider levies individual surcharges (on average 1.1 %) that are jointly paid by the employer and employee.
It is up to you to decide whether you wish to receive sickness benefit. The conclusion of this optional tariff results in a three-year commitment to the statutory health insurance fund.
Monthly tariffs for private health insurance
In private health insurance monthly income does not play a role. So high earning expats can benefit from lower health insurance costs of private health insurance.
Depending on their tariff, expats are either reimbursed monthly payments by the health insurance company or they get a percentage share back.
The employer also pays a share of expat’s monthly premium of private health insurance. However, the maximum they can contribute is the amount they would pay for a publicly insured employee (max. €367.97 for health insurance and €71.48 for long-term care insurance)
Head by Head Comparison of Public and Private Health Insurance
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Are you also living and working in Germany? What do you think is the best health insurance for expats in Germany? Let us know in the comments below.