All people living in Germany are required to have health insurance. This also applies, of course, to international researchers and their accompanying family members. When applying for your visa, you must provide proof of health insurance that covers at least your travel to Germany, as well as the first few weeks. To apply for your residence permit after your arrival, you must then provide proof of health insurance that is valid for the entire period of your stay. Depending on the type of stay, you have various options for insuring yourself.
The Welcome Centre can provide assistance in choosing a public or private health insurance company and can also recommend multilingual doctors in the area.
As a general rule, check first whether your existing health insurance in your home country also covers medical and hospital costs during your stay in Germany and whether you are required to take out German health insurance. The insurance company in your home country must confirm in writing that regular medical health insurance coverage is also available in Germany. If the insurance coverage is not sufficient, you will be required to take out additional health insurance. You can find more information on this page, EURAXESS Deutschland as well as the health insurance centre (Krankenkassenzentrale) .Health insurance according to type of stay (scholarship, self-financed or employment)
Research stay – grant or self-financed
If you are financing your stay with a grant, scholarship, or your own funds, you generally only have access to private health insurance. You can choose an insurance company in Germany or one in your home country.
German organisations that award scholarships for research stays in Germany often offer their scholarship holders insurance packages with a good range of benefits at reduced rates. Ask the organisations awarding the scholarship for a recommendation, or contact the Welcome Centre.
Research stay with an employment contract
If you have an employment contract, you are usually covered by the statutory health insurance. If your gross annual salary is greater than €64,350, you can choose between private or statutory health insurance.
For short stays with a Schengen visa (up to 90 days), you will need health insurance with minimum coverage of €30,000, which is valid for the entire Schengen area. It may be possible for you to take out travel health insurance in your home country that fits these criteria.
For longer-term stays (longer than 90 days), a more comprehensive health insurance plan is necessary. The coverage must correspond to the scope of benefits offered by the statutory health insurance in Germany.
In either case, we recommend that you take out a German health insurance policy in order to simplify the claiming and settlement of benefits in Germany.
If there is a social insurance agreement between your home country and Germany, the health insurance regulations of your home country continue to apply to you. You do not need additional health insurance for your stay in Germany, as long as the scope of coverage in your home country roughly corresponds to the coverage provided in Germany. The health insurance or social insurance office in your home country can provide confirmation via a form (E101).
If you are either voluntarily or compulsorily insured in your home country, you can receive medical treatment in the EU, EEA and Switzerland and have the costs reimbursed by your health insurance company in your home country. The costs are covered up to the amount that a comparable treatment costs in your home country.
Short-term stay: European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you are staying in Germany for up to 90 days and have statutory health insurance in your home country, you can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It will be issued to you by your health insurance company in your home country. With the EHIC, you can receive medical care in Germany in the event of illness or injury. Check with your health insurance company in your home country before your trip to find out which benefits will be covered in Germany.
Longer-term stay: Document S1
If you are staying in Germany for a longer period of time and have statutory health insurance in your home country, you can ask your health insurance company to issue you an S1 certificate. This certificate allows you to claim all the benefits of statutory German health insurance in Germany.
The German health insurance system
There are two types of health insurance in Germany: statutory health insurance and private health insurance. Statutory health insurance companies operate on the principle of shared risk on a non-profit basis. They offer a core set of benefits that are defined by law, as well as different supplementary benefits. Private health insurance companies, on the other hand, are in the private sector and operate for profit. The scope of the benefits is based on the selected rate package.
Both offer insurance coverage in the event of illness and accident. They both, to a limited extent, also cover the costs of pre- and post-treatment examinations, rehabilitation measures and medication. However, the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, the scope of the insurance coverage and the cost of premiums vary. It is not easy to switch between statutory and private health insurance plans. Further information can be found in the "Gesundheit für alle (Health for All)" guide, which is available to download in several languages.Statutory health insurance (GKV)
If your gross annual salary is below a certain limit (as of 2021: €58,050), you must have statutory health insurance. Freelancers and the self-employed may also have statutory health insurance under certain conditions. There are different insurance providers from which to choose. The providers all offer the core benefits that are defined by law, with different additional benefits, which result in different rates. The amount you are charged depends on your income and are financed equally by you and your employer. Family members without their own income can be insured free of charge. The costs of treatment are paid directly by the health insurance company. Therefore, you will always be required to present your insurance card when receiving medical care so that the doctor’s office can settle your bill directly with the health insurance company.
Features of GKV:
- Statutory scope of benefits that guarantees basic medical treatment at a high standard.
- Covers the costs of doctor visits, prescription medication, outpatient therapy and outpatient, as well as inpatient medical treatment.
- Covers all treatment costs, except for dental protheses and glasses.
- Caps the hospitalisation costs at €10 per day for the first 28 days.
- Prescriptions for medication can be filled at a pharmacy for a small co-payment.
If your gross annual salary is above the limit (as of 2021: €58,050) or if you are self-employed, you can decide whether or not you want statutory or private health insurance. The amount you pay is determined by the scope of benefits. Your age, gender and individual health risks, including any pre-existing conditions, are also taken into account. The cost of private health insurance can rise sharply with age.
Private health insurance often offers more in the way of benefits. For instance, treatment by a chief physician or coverage of extensive dental treatments. You will pay for all services and treatments initially. You will then submit the receipts in order to receive reimbursement from your private health insurance in the amount and to the extent of which is covered in your insurance plan. If you are unsure about whether a service will be paid for by your private health insurance, ask your provider before starting treatment.
When purchasing private insurance plans for the family, each member will receive a separate plan, which will be paid separately.
As a rule, private health insurance does not cover costs that are due to pre-existing conditions that were known at the time the policy was taken out. For some situations, there is also a waiting period involved. For instance, costs of any medical treatment related to pregnancy are usually covered only after 12 months after the policy began.
The scope of benefits and price of private health insurance policies vary considerably. If you want to take out private health insurance, you should research the information carefully and compare providers and rates. You would be well advised to reach out for independent advice.
The International Office
The Welcome Centre is not barrier-free. Please contact us if you need assistance.