If you're planning to study in Germany as an international student, you will need to arrange adequate health insurance coverage. Without it, you won't be able to enrol into university or receive a residence permit. Germany has a mixed health insurance system of both statutory and private health insurance providers. It depends on your personal situation whether statutory or private insurance is right for you.
For students under 30 years of age it is mandatory to apply for statutory health insurance. They can, however, apply for an exemption within the first three months of their studies if they wish to take out private health insurance instead. Students who are 30 years or older when commencing their studies can generally not take out statutory health insurance, and have to opt for private health insurance.
Foreign health insurance
Students from the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can remain insured in their home country and receive medical services in Germany. For this, they should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) at the statutory health insurance in their home country, and use it to register their foreign health insurance with a statutory health insurance institution in Germany. The addresses of the relevant institutions for issuing an EHIC can be found in the public directory of the European Union Institutions of social security.
In this case, medical costs incurred in Germany are reimbursed by the statutory health insurance of the patient. The same also applies to nationals of countries which have concluded a social insurance agreement in the area of health insurance with Germany. This currently comprises the following countries outside the EU: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Tunisia (as of August 2017).
Foreign private health insurance may also be accepted in Germany. For more information please contact your insurance company. If your private insurance is accepted, you need a confirmation that you are exempted from compulsory insurance in the German statutory health insurance. Please note that afterwards, you can no longer switch to a statutory health insurance for the duration of your studies!
The compulsory statutory insurance for students is characterised by low monthly contributions (health insurance: currently EUR 76.85 plus individual additional contribution of the health insurance, long-term care insurance: currently EUR 22.94 or EUR 24.82 for insured persons of 23 years or older without children). However, access to compulsory student insurance ends at the latest at the beginning of the semester in which you turn 30 years of age.
For students who have passed the age of 30 compulsory insurance can only be continued if one of the following reasons exists:
- Enrolment in mandatory training after finishing your degree
- Family reasons (for example care of disabled or sick relatives),
- Personal reasons (such as illness, disability, birth of a child, participation in a board of the university),
- In certain cases, being enroled at a higher education institute after professional reorientation
If there are no grounds for extension, the persons concerned can voluntarily insure themselves in the statutory health insurance. However, after a 6-month transitional period, the contributions are about twice as high as the reduced student tariff.
On the website of the GKV-Spitzenverband association you will find a list of statutory health insurances in Germany.
If instead you choose private health insurance, you must apply for an exemption from the compulsory statutory health insurance within the first three months after the compulsory insurance period begins. The benefits of the chosen private insurance must be equivalent to the compulsory statutory insurance.
Please note: The exemption applies for the duration of the entire study and cannot be revoked.
When applying for a residence permit, proof of sufficient health insurance coverage is needed to verify that students can provide for their costs of living. For this purpose, Annex 6 (see below) must be signed by the private insurance company.
On the website of the PKV-Verband association (German only) you will find a list of private health insurance companies.
What does student health insurance in Germany cover?
German student health insurance (whether public or private) includes the following benefits:
- Hospital treatment,
- Doctor's visits,
- Prescription medications,
- Hearing aids, wheelchairs or other assistive devices,
- Cancer screening,
- Dental examinations,
- Certain dental procedures such as crowns and dentures.
Some companies may also offer additional coverage for a slightly higher fee, such as international travel and liability insurance or additional dental care.
Difference between travel insurance and health insurance for students.
Foreign students in Germany need two types of health insurance:
- Travel health insurance for students: This is short-term insurance for the period from the day you leave your home country to the start of your semester in Germany. When you apply for a visa to study in Germany, you will be asked by the embassy for travel health insurance that meets Schengen requirements.
- Student Health Insurance: This is a long-term health insurance policy that covers you for the duration of your studies and until you return home. You will need health insurance in order to enroll at the university.
Foreign nationals attending a language or short-term preparatory course in Germany do not have access to statutory health insurance, and must opt for private insurance. When applying for a residence permit, they will need to show that they have sufficient insurance coverage in case of illness. For this purpose Annex 7 (see below) must be signed by the private insurance company. Once the language or preparatory course is finished, students under 30 years of age can switch to statutory health insurance if they remain in Germany for their studies.
Chatbot - Health insurance guide
The wide range of offers, admission requirements and tariffs can make it difficult to choose a suitable health insurance. Euraxess Germany and the German Society of International Students (DeGis) have developed a chatbot in cooperation. This can provide guidance for international students, language students, scholarship holders, PhD students and researchers. You can find the chatbot here: Exploration Chatbot - DeGiS