Health insurance in Germany

Germany is often praised for having one of the best health insurance system in the world. It may very well be true but it also very complex! I have also struggled to understand it when first arriving here so i thought i’d share my experience in this overview covering the different types, and what to do if you need one of a residence permit. 🙂

health insurance in germany residence permit

Health insurance in Germany: efficient but complex

In some countries, health insurance is managed by the government as a public service, and in some others it is purely a private service. Germany has a hybrid & interesting system.

The German state has delegated around 300 insurance companies to manage it’s population’s health coverage. They all work under a contract with the state, can be public or private and are called “Krankenkasse”. Let’s try to understand how health insurance in Germany works.

The different provider types

There a 3 kinds of health insurance in Germany you can be under: Gesetzlich, Freiwillig or Privat.

This table aims at providing a quick overview. Read on for more details.

Public (Gesetzlich or GKV) Voluntary public insurance (Freiwillig) Private insurance – (Privat or PKV)
Who it is for– Employees earning less than 56k€/year– Employees earning more than 56k€/year
– Freelancers
– Employees earning more than 56k€/year
– Freelancers
– People that don’t qualify for public
Costs – 14,80 % – 16,30% of gross income– 14,80 % – 16,30% of gross incomeBased on health profile
Pros– 1/2 of costs paid by employer
– contribution follows your income
– covers household members at no extra cost
– contribution follows your income
– covers household members at no extra cost
– Shorter waiting times
– Better access to specialists
– Better treatment quality in some cases
– Included extras
Cons– Longer waiting times
– Sometimes only partial treatment coverage
– Sometimes lower priority at hospitals.

– Longer waiting times
– Sometimes only partial treatment coverage
– Sometimes lower priority at hospitals.
– Unpredictable rates long-term
– Pay extra for partners or kids
RemarksMostly suited for people with a very safe pension plan and income safety net or for people with no other option at the moment.

1- Public insurance – Gesetzlich (GKV)

Gesetzlich (versichert) also called pflicht(versichert) is most typical coverage as it compulsory for people earning less than 56K€ a year. Typical situation: you will be insured by a public insurance company that your employer will likely pick for you, if it is your first job in Germany. Your employer will directly take over the payment of the coverage by paying its share and yours through your wage. The rate is set by law between between 14,80 % and 16,30% of your gross income.

The good news is that what you pay is directly related to what you earn so if you face a sudden decrease in income, the fee will also decreasing. If you have people with no income in the household (kids or partner for example), being with the public system is really good because you cover them with your own policy at no extra cost.

Some drawbacks come with it though. Practitioners tend to prioritize private patients over public ones since they get paid better/faster. This induces longer waiting times when trying to get an appointment. If you go the hospital it’s also not guaranteed that your case will be followed by the most experienced doctor or that you get a private room, as it’s the case with private coverage usually. Also, expect some treatments to be only partly covered. For example when filling a tooth at the dentist; only the standard filling will be covered and not the higher quality more expensive one. In this case, you’d need to pay extra from your pocket.

2- Voluntary public insurance – Freiwillig

Freiwillig (versichert) is basically the same at Gesetzlich except that you earn more than 56K€ a year. You will then pay your whole share directly to your Krankenkasse. This has for the effect to increase your gross salary, since your employer is not paying for you share anymore. This can also mean that you are self-employed and choose to stay in the public system, to make use of its advantages, despite the higher costs compare to private coverage.

3- Private insurance – Privat (PKV)

Privat (versichert) means that you choose to insured at a private Krankenkasse provided you earn more than 56K€ a year or don’t qualify for the public system for any number of reasons. The fees applied by private Krankenkassen are usually lower than in public ones for a better coverage when you are a young healthy person, but it increases over time based on your health profile.

Indeed, in the public system, the contribution depends on what you earn. In the private system however, the fee depends on your health risks. So the more you age and/or have conditions, the higher the costs will become. Basically, you need to decide for yourself it’s worth the savings.

Private Krankenkassen have more complex offers than public ones in terms of what get covered and so on, so choose wisely. You also get different advantages like reduced waiting time at the clinic or at-home nurses. However, it does come with drawbacks. If you have people with no income in the household, you have to pay extra for each them too. Coming back to the public system after being in the private one is also extremely difficult if not impossible for freelancers.

The costs

Health insurance in Germany is efficient, but still costly for individuals.

In the public system

As stated earlier, being with the public system means that between 14,80 % and 16,30% of your income will be use to pay for your health insurance in Germany. As an employee, half of it is paid by you, and the other half by the employer. Some figures to get an idea:

  • Depending on your Krankenkasse and your income, you usually pay directly or indirectly a minimum of 180€ per month.
  • This rate falls down to 70-90€ for students enrolled at a Germany university (aged under 30), depending on a few things.
  • As a good earning freelancer in the public system, the bill can even reach up to 602,25 €, the maximum monthly contribution. This corresponds to a monthly earning of 4.125 €.

I’m coming from a country where social and health insurance is provided for free to all, so it came a bit as a shock the first months as you can imagine.

The biggest companies for public health insurance in Germany are : Techniker Krankenkasse, AOK : Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse, BKK: Betriebskrankenkasse, IKK : Innungskrankenkasse, LKK : Landwirtschaftliche Krankenkasse, etc…

A minority of people also decide not to take coverage because they cannot afford health insurance in Germany. However this is illegal and i strongly advise against doing such thing.

Rates for private health insurance in Germany

As stated earlier, your rate will be based on a number of factors, including age and it is not linked to income.

Public Krankenkassen offer more or less the same amount of service across the board for roughly the same price. This is however not the case for private Krankenkassen. Think about how internet providers have different plans and different level of services; the market is more complex and more diverse. You need to pay attention, explore the market and pick something that suits your needs. A good place to do that are comparison platforms like TarifCheck or Preisvergleich. It lets you pick options to define what coverage you want. These are:

  • If you want additional coverage like teeth, vision, alternative medicine (Zusatzleistungen).
  • On the financial side, how much deductible you can afford (Selbstbeteiligung).
  • If you have to stop working for a while, when should a daily sickness allowance should kick in, and how much it should be (Krankentagegeld).
  • If you stay at a hospital, do you wish to have a private room, be handled by the head doctor, etc. (Krankenhausleistungen).
  • If additional household members should be covered.

What if i need more guidance to find right policy?

However, if you need real humans to talk about your precise need and avoid unnecessary premiums, you may want to talk to independent knowledgeable brokers like Feather Insurance. They have been closely talking to foreign nationals that are looking at private options and know exactly how to answer to your issues and situation. And it’s 100% serviced in English. Feather Insurance also offers those benefits, quite unique on the market:

  • Immediate quote (somehow no other broker does this)
  • 24h digital sign up
  • English concierge service (e.g. helping book doctors appointements)
  • Claims super simple via their paperless tool
  • Any time, any questions just book a quick video appointment via the app.

Coverage abroad

Of course when you go home to visit your family and simply go abroad for holidays in Europe, your German health insurance will cover you and giving your reference number should be enough to be reimbursed in the end. Be careful though, you will be reimbursed at the rate that is considered normal for that particular treatment in Germany, so while it will probably cover most of the costs, the rest will come from your pocket in some cases.

The German healthcare system: a visual allegory. 😉

How to sign up for public health insurance in Germany

There are a number of ways to sign-up once you have made a choice. You could go to one of their offices or download a form on their websites. If you are in a hurry and need a certificate to start working or to apply for a long-term visa, you can sign-up for TK online, in only a few minutes via this form (100% in English).

The Techniker Krankenkasse has consistently been rated the best Krankenkasse for almost 10 years a row. A sure choice. And they are able to offer some guidance in English too, when needed.

If you are an artist, a writer, performer: think KSK

The German government knows it hard to make a living when being an artist. Paying an expensive health insurance on top of everything else is not easy. That’s why Künstlersozialkasse (KSK) exists. If you are able to prove your main occupation is to live from artistic and creative jobs, the KSK will pay half of your current fees every month (only if you are part of the public system). The tricky part is that there is not a clear distinctions between what’s a art job and what’s not so it might be hard to get into it. Some people hire specialists to fill in the paperwork to make sure they tick the right boxes.

A useful tip for freelancers when you are moving from another EU country

In some cases, especially for people who move to Germany to start as a freelancer, a public Krankenkasse might be reluctant to take you on. This because you might need to prove that you contributed to the public system in your home country. This procedure is normalized via the form E104, which you should request from your domestic system, before you leave the country. This form is a statement of your contributions for them to be transferred to the German system.

There is no need to download and fill it in yourself, this is done by your local health insurance provider and then sent to you. It is then your responsibility to communicate this document to your chosen Krankenkasse.

Taking on a German health insurance for residence permit or other visas

If you are not an EU citizen and you love Germany so much that you plan to stay to study or for a job, you will need to show that you have chosen an health insurance in Germany. It is required to obtain a residence permit or even enroll in a university. Germany is usually not very good at recognizing non-EU systems so make sure your health insurance is valid for the German system.

For a lot of foreigners applying for a German visa here for all sort of reasons, the solution here will be to sign-up for a German travel insurance provided by a German company, also sometimes called incoming insurance for Germany. This makes sure that the insurance policy complies with the minimum requirements expected by the authorities. It can be classified as a private health insurance in Germany but for limited stays for up to 5 years.

This is a temporary solution to sort out your residence status, most people switch to a local Krankenkasse afterwards.

If you want to study in Germany

If you are under 30 and enrolling in a university program in Germany, you have to take on a German public health insurance. This has a lot of benefits and costs only 81€ a month. It doesn’t happen automatically when you register at the university though. You have let the university know which Krankenkasse you picked. This is unfortunately only possible when you have registered an address in the country.

If you are not able to join the public system for whatever reason, it is also possible to join a private insurance. If you need guidance on how what policy to get in this case, without it costing a leg, you might consider talking to knowledgeable independent brokers like Feather Insurance, who are capable of scanning the market and find the right policy for your edge case. And it’s 100% serviced in English.

If you are self-employed

If you are running your own show, paying a Krankenkasse with everything else can be major hole in your monthly budget. This is definitely of the drawbacks of the German system; low-earning self-employed people pay a relatively high amount for their health insurance in Germany. If you have been in a public scheme within the E.U recently, you might to choose what is called a Freiwillige gesetzliche Krankenversicherung. This means that you stay in the public system, which is advised for people with kids and spouses.  

For others, it is advised to stay with the private system. In this case, Feather Insurance can help you find the right and fairest policy for your needs too.

I hope this little run-down helped you to understand the German health insurance system and make a better choice for your own coverage. Good luck.

Tip 1 : If you are lost on how to apply to a Krankenkasse and you plan to be a full time employee, you can often ask for help to your colleagues or to any administrative assistant that may exist in your company. They can be very helpful. In reality, you will most likely have to go on the chosen Krankenkasse website and open an “account” there. You will get a document that says that you subscribed to their coverage, you’ll send it to your company and poof ! There you go! Your employer will take care of the rest.

Sources: Ministry of Education & Research, More info on benefits and the state health system on its website here.


  • Reply Hollee 15/02/2019 at 15:37

    First, your website has been a gigantic help to me! Thank you so much. I could really use your help. I am a 32 year old American moving to Berlin for a one year language visa, and planning to settle in Berlin permanently. My school recommended care concept, but it seems they never reimburse and are sometimes not accepted by the foreigner’s office. GKV companies say they can’t cover me because I will not be working in Germany, but I have read that once you go to private insurance it is almost impossible to go back to GKV. Can you please give some information on what I should do? I do not want to hurt my chances of being able to get public insurance when I get a job later. Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/02/2019 at 10:40

      Hey Hollee. It can be difficult to be going back to public in some cases but usually as an employee, this makes it much easier.

  • Reply Anees 25/01/2019 at 15:02

    Thank you for the post.
    I am a student here in Germany and had TK for the last three years. Then I had to switch to Care Concept which is private. because they wanted to double the fee as I was already in my 14th semester.
    I have been working part time in the meantime with a company and have been offered a full time job. I have started working already because I am allowed to work 120 days as I have a student visa.
    Now I don’t understand if I have to switch to TK again or keep this insurance and tell my Employer that I have private insurance.
    I have an appointment for Blue card in April and I have to get paid in the mean time which will be three months.
    I know I have to switch to TK but what should I do in the mean time?
    Is it ok to keep working on a student insurance for three months?


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/01/2019 at 21:00

      Hey Anees. You probably need to speak with your HR department to get an answer. As you said yourself, you are allowed to work with a student visa, which means (like for other many other foreign students); a private coverage (non-statutory/non Krankenkasse). In doubt, you may also contact your consulate/embassy or your international student office.

  • Reply Verity 16/01/2019 at 01:21


    I’m a UK freelancer looking for the cheapest and most basic private plan that meets Germany’s minimum legal requirements. Where can I find a list of the exact minimum requirements needed? Is is purely inpatient and outpatient care or do I need other add-ons like dental, maternity, repatriation etc.

    Do you know whether the Cigna Global international insurance meets Germany’s legal requirements?

    Thanks so much for your help

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:11

      Hey Verity, i can’t know for all possible insurance companies out there i’m afraid. As a resident in Germany, you need to sign-up for a local Krankenkasse, which then meets the local requirements.

  • Reply Abe 03/01/2019 at 18:11

    Good day! I am an Australian citizen married to a German citizen. I am still learning the language, so it will probably take sometime for me to find a job. I have already my Aufenhaltstitel (unbefristet) and my partner is self employed. How would my insurance be calculated or how much do I need to pay for my insurance? Pleae help. Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/01/2019 at 12:37

      Hey Abe. Well, i can’t really tell. Depends on which system (private vs public / risks vs income) you want for yourself.

  • Reply Johnny 19/12/2018 at 05:29

    THank you for this helpful information! I am from the USA and moving to Frankfurt in a few months for a new job. The comp will be above the private insurance threshhold so am trying to figure out what will save me more money. I calculated the public insurance and it is around 4000 euros a year. I was wondering if you think I could get a material savings on a public plan? I am young, healthy, and currently visit the doctor once a year for my annual check up. Sometimes, I skip a year because the doctor tells me there is no reason to come in. I do visit the dentist twice a year for my regular cleanings but that is about it. I know private insurance is extremely variable depending on age, health, and other factors but wondering if you think I could see noticeable savings taking the private route? THanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/12/2018 at 22:13

      Hey Johnny. First; will you earn more than 56K€/year in your job to be able to switch to private as an employee? If so, then yes, there will be noticeable savings if you are young/healthy/no kids/no condition/working partner. You need to look at this long term though, as mentioned in the post.

  • Reply Joe 11/12/2018 at 10:06

    Hi Bastien,

    I’m a UK citizen moving to Germany next week to work as a freelancer. I’m just trying to get everything in order, but I have just been told that I won’t be accepted on to the public health system? I’m actually eligible to join the KSK as I am 100% in the artistic field and satisfy all their criteria to the T, however, if I am forced to get a private insurance, will I still be able to join the KSK? And was I misinformed about the public insurance option? Obviously, I would prefer to be insured on with TK or something else in the public insurance scheme. Is it possible? Thanks, Joe.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/12/2018 at 09:22

      Hey Joe. I’m not sure i can reply accurately with so little information on your case unfortunately. Depends on a few factors, what you did before, etc…

  • Reply Christian 28/11/2018 at 11:36

    Hi Bastien, hope you can g help. I am currently insured as a dependent on my wife’s TK insurance, but want to register as freelancer at Finanzamt, as I have some mini jobs in pipeline. I do not expect to earn more than 9.000 annually, or regularly. Can I stay insured as a dependent, or I have to change and pay on my own? Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2018 at 09:34

      Hey Christian. If you are going to be registered, you will need to pay your own health insurance coverage. The expected revenue does not play a role here.

  • Reply Thalia Agroti 17/11/2018 at 00:23

    I am 25 and just moved to Berlin 2 weeks ago and looks like I’ll be unemployed for a while until i learn better German or find something like a mini-job at most.
    I’m not sure which type of insurance would apply to me under these circumstances. I do need to see a chiropractor and I wonder wether this is a grey area, as in, considered alternative medicine or something else. I also read in some chiro’s website that they only accept private insurance and from my understanding from your article it anyway sounds that that is what i should be going for. Mind you i am an EU citizen and do have European Health insurance but I’ve never needed to use it so i wouldn’t know how acceptable it is and where at this point!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/11/2018 at 20:49

      Hey Thalia. If you become a German resident, you will need a local insurance. Your EHIC is only valid for the transition period. If applicable, have you looked into transfering unemployment benefits from your home country so it pays for health insurance here? More info on this post. Good luck to you!

  • Reply Kina 10/11/2018 at 12:07

    Hi Bastien,
    It was very nice your topic. I came to Germany with a reunion visa with my husband. To apply for TK insurance , they told me they only can apply me if I have residence permit card. It took me 2 months to get the card, then I went to TK apply for my insurance. Two weeks later, they sent me a letter to say that now Im insured and I need to pay even for the 3 previous months which I didn’t allowed to use their systems. For me this is an not logical at all.
    I will go to ask them again for this, they didn’t agree to apply the Freiwillige gesetzliche Krankenversicherung even he was Italian now working as self employee here, this reason why I need to pay separate was cost 391 E/ month. I can’t understand, as a contract I should pay from the day I signed for it, not the day I came to Germany. Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/11/2018 at 21:46

      Hi Kina. I am as puzzled as you are. Can you prove you were covered through other means during that time? If so, that might get you out of it…

  • Reply Oliver Ravn 05/11/2018 at 16:37

    Hey Bastien,

    First of all, thank you so much for the very informative blog. I do have a question for you regarding health and pension contributions. I recently landed a new job i Berlin from January 2019. In the contract, it says that i will be payed 3000€. Furthermore it states that, besides the monthly wage, the company will contribute to the pension and health insurance, which amounts to 22,11% of my total wage. How should i understand this? That the company pays for all the contributions, or that it pays to the contribution through my wage, and thereby deduce the wage in some way? Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/11/2018 at 09:55

      Hey Oliver. 3000€ is your gross wage, on which 22,11% will be taken off to pay for your health and pension contributions. As stated in the post, your employer pays about 50% of contributions (something you can’t see on your payslip, it’s through other means) and the rest is paid by you, directly on your gross wage.

  • Reply Lil-Eric 04/11/2018 at 23:16

    This is soooo helpful. Thanks. I’ve a curious one – I’m a freelance, finally breaking even and established with AOK. But they now want information on my assets (if any) outside Germany. Is this normal, and how could this affect my premiums? They’ve all my accountant’s output, they know my income – good years and bad years. Is it possible because I own a flat somewhere (unrented out etc, mortgaged to the hilt etc) they’re going to hike my monthly payments to some shockingly high level? Have you any experience of this?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/11/2018 at 09:42

      Hey Lil-Eric. This is an odd case i have never heard of before… I suppose they are trying to identify any and all possible sources of income. Sorry, can’t help there. Good luck.

  • Reply Milda 02/11/2018 at 15:04

    I am originally from Lithuania, but worked last 2 years in UK.
    I just arrived to Berlin and thinking to register at Arbeitsamt as job seeker.
    Would the Arbeitsamt cover my health insurance while I am registered with them? I am not seeking for any benefits, just wondering, if I am a job seeker, do I get at least health insurance covered.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/11/2018 at 20:54

      Hey Milda, Take a look at this post. It should be helpful.

  • Reply Tania 22/10/2018 at 16:16

    Hi guys! Great job with this blog, thank you so much!

    I am a 31 year old Portuguese who just arrived in Berlin. I’ve done my Anmeldung, got my ID tax number and have a mini job lined up (it will be my only source of income in the next months as I learn deutsch). At the moment I am using the EU health card. My future employer has asked me for the Social Security Number which, if I’ve understood correctly, I can only get through a health insurance provider in germany (please correct me if i’m wrong on this). I’ve been suggested AOK or TK. I am trying to keep costs down since I haven’t started working and anyways, it’s a mini job and pays next to nothing… so, any suggestions on the best health insurance provider and how much would I pay minimum? I am also seeking to apply for the job center funding so that might help in the future. Thanks aloot!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/10/2018 at 18:25

      Hey Tania. Yes, your assessment is right. the EHIC card is good for the few weeks of transition when you move to Germany but you need to switch to a local provider as a now German resident. You are unfortunately stuck in a bad situation where a mini-job won’t pay for your health insurance but you still need one and pay it yourself. AOK and TK are both good options. They will charge you the minimum rate, which can still account to a few hundred euro a month. Good luck with everything !

      • Reply Tania 24/10/2018 at 15:56

        Thank you soo much!
        Any step towards knowledge and clarification in this crazy system is a celebration to me 🙂 Keep up the good job!

        • Reply Gary Paddick 29/11/2018 at 15:15

          Thanks again for all the information – in almost the same situation with just started mini job that wont yet pay for insurance (contract may come in the new year)

          In the case of Tania, AOK and TK refer to the public system correct (which guess I will be on as well)?

          I’m on a working holiday visa, and so far have private travel insurance that was needed for the visa application.
          Heard from a friend that without the public german insurance, you are only able to work 45 hrs a month, but would be covered for those 45 hrs (and would need proper insurance to work more hours).

          Any knowledge in this kind of case? Am I currently covered for those first 45 hrs? And is public insurance (TK, AOK) the way to go?

          Thanks so much

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2018 at 09:50

            Hey Gary. AOK and TK are both part of the public system but you are not obligated to go public. You can also go private for a cheaper rate. I have never heard of such a limitation mentioned by your friend but again; working holiday visa are not my specialty.

  • Reply Clive Johnson 12/10/2018 at 23:19

    Dear Bastian,

    Thank you for the work you’ve put in with this useful website.

    My son has been in Berlin for 18 months and I’ve only found out he’s not sorted his insurance. He’s been freelancing for less that 450 Euros a month.

    Will he have to pay or rather backdate his insurance? And if so, do you know if he or I will have to pay it in one go? Or installments?

    Thanks again

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2018 at 11:20

      Hey Clive. Yes that is quite likely he will need to pay some or all of it back. Payment terms are up to the individual provider. It might be negotiable.

  • Reply Dimitri 27/09/2018 at 19:25


    Thanks a lot for this interesting article, I just received an insurance with a total price of 809.78 € employers contribution included.

    I don’t know how much my employer will take over but it is really looking for me a lot .

    Any Idea of a cheap insurance where I can pay 250 euros or around?

    The insurance I tried was tk.

    Thanks a lot,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:37

      Hey Dimitri. That’s how it works in Germany. “Cheap insurance” only happens in the private sector but read the post again for more details.

  • Reply Lachie 11/09/2018 at 19:33

    Hey Bastien, I’m applying to extend my residence permit in 2 days time, I’m an Australian who’s moving from a 1 yr working holiday visa to the 6 month job seekers visa. I just discovered that if your health insurance has not been continuous for the entire period you’ve been here they can refuse to renew it. Mine expired 2 weeks ago so I’m freaking out a little!

    Do you have any idea whether they’ll ask for proof of previous health insurance in the interview? I could photoshop the dates in my old travel insurance certificate but I’m pretty hesitant to go down that path.

    This is the document I’m referring to (last two paragraphs):

  • Reply Manisha Maharjan 10/09/2018 at 15:23

    Hi Bastien.
    Thank you for the informative post. I have a question. Soon I will be turning 3o in Feb. I have been insured with AOK for last 2.5 years and I am still a student. But above 30, I can’t be insured under Student insurance. Will it be good to stay with AOK by paying around 170 euros per month or go for some private insurance? Does AOK have some schemes to charge less than this amount when I am earning less than 600 euros per month. Any reply would be helpful

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/09/2018 at 20:29

      Hey Manisha. Make sure to do your homework but 170€ is super cheap when paying health insurance on your own (regardless of private/public). I doubt you could get something much better in the private system.

      • Reply Manisha Maharjan 13/09/2018 at 22:30

        Thank you for reply. I will talk with AOK representatives

  • Reply William Mansfield 18/07/2018 at 03:46

    My son is 21 and has just moved to Berlin. He has dual American/Polish citizenship, and entered Germany on his Polish/EU passport. We’re told he is not eligible for the public system as he has never actually resided, worked, attended school, or paid taxes in Poland. He is attending German language classes to reach B2 certification before applying to University for his music performance masters studies. I told him we would take care of his health insurance, since he is not not working and spending all of his time practicing German and his instrument. He has no income and is living off of savings. His seems like unusual circumstances as I cannot find any options other than purchasing very expensive (>300 Euro per month) private insurance. This page says it will also be difficult, if not impossible, for him to switch to public once he is enrolled in University. Any help would be very welcome. Thanks.

    • Reply Raz Siwel 29/07/2018 at 23:05

      If you are a freelancer, for the first five years you can get a very good coverage – accepted by the visa offices – from Hans Merkur and the product is Care Concept, you cannot get it after 5 years, you then have to pay full insurance. Anyway, beleive it or not, it’s only about €60 per month. I had it and needed a €9000 operation and they paid out with no fuss, all I had to pay was €150.

      By the way, to get the € symbol on a Mac press Opt+Shift+2

      • Reply William Mansfield 30/01/2019 at 20:09

        Hi Raz. Thanks for the (belated) reply. We are STILL trying to sort this out. You said “accepted by the visa offices”. I’m not sure if Care Concept would work for my son, since he entered Germany as an EU citizen, which did not require a Visa. Thanks for the tip on the € symbol. It’s come in really handy.

  • Reply Bjorn 16/07/2018 at 17:34

    Hey! Thanks for the info. I got to Berlin two weeks ago and I have done my anmeldung, got a bank account, phone number and also travel insurance. Now I am looking for a full-time job while taking german class. My plan with health insurance was to sort it when I got a job but have been told that by a friend you need to get it as soon as you do the anmeldung. Is that right? Not too keen to pay while Im unemployed. I came from the UK and though maybe Im covered by EHIC for 3 months or so first? Or will I get backdated bill once I get a job? Thanks for helping out.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/07/2018 at 09:32

      Hi Bjorn. I guess in theory, you could just still be a tourist taking a long-stay in Germany at the moment, right?. You could be in the grey zone where you aren’t considered a german resident yet. so you could stretch your luck a little bit with your EHIC card i guess, but don’t wait to look to sort out a local insurance. It’s just an opinion however.

  • Reply Laeticia 10/07/2018 at 11:28

    Hello, this was very informative.

    I will be moving to Germany for study purposes in January/ February 2019 and am busy looking for the best health care options there. However, I will be turning 30 next year March and am not so sure about the benefits of foreigners above from 30 above. From some of my searches I was able to determine that it gets a bit more expensive from 30.

    Do you think that I can still register for an affordable one before I turn 30. If I get an insurance while I’m 29 will they automatically change my benefits when I turn 30 or will I be able to remain on the one I got first?

    Thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/07/2018 at 11:38

      Hi Laeticia. I don’t want to give you incorrect info and recommendations based on so little info, i’d talk to a pro if you are unsure about your situation. good luck!

  • Reply Lewis Mackenzie 07/05/2018 at 16:23

    Hi Bastien,
    Thanks for the great info. I have recently acquired a freelance artist visa and need to organise my own health insurance. I’m basically looking for the cheapest and have come across some international health insurance plans. One being from ‘Health Care International’, which I found through a site called ‘Pacific Prime’. It’s 160 euro/mth which is more in my budget. I was wondering if you had an knowledge of this company and/or if this plan would legitimately cover me in Berlin?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/05/2018 at 20:37

      Hey Lewis. I know i need to improve on this part of the post because i am unsure about what the German state deems a good enough coverage or not. You’d have to be sure that it’s good enough for your visa. Like i said, i need to make research there. 🙂

  • Reply Toby Sheppard 23/04/2018 at 17:54

    Hey Bastien,

    I moved to Berlin very recently from London, i’m currently unemployed but am looking at various jobs (cafe, delivery services, cleaning etc.) while i get myself set up here, unfortunately a lot of the job ads request i already have my own health insurance. I’m finding it difficult to figure out how i apply for health insurance while i’m unemployed – can i do this through a public insurer? I can’t seem to find a proper answer on this

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/04/2018 at 19:13

      Hey Tobi. Yes, public or private doesn’t matter, you can be in both.

  • Reply Sandra 23/03/2018 at 16:01

    Hello Bastien. First thank you so much for the detailed information. Has been quite useful. I will travel soon to Germany for a PosDoc. I´ve had difficulties for the acquisition of the health insurance. I will stay for a total of 2 years with a guest contract and looking at the information I consider that a possible option is choosing a private insurance, however I am not sure a good provider. Do you have any recommendation?. Thanks a lot in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/03/2018 at 19:06

      Hi Sandra. Sorry i don’t have any recommendations on that precise topic.

  • Reply shashikanth 22/03/2018 at 20:23


    I want to shift from AOK to a private health insurance as I will be 30 years old by this July, 2018. I can’t bear 169 Euros per month as I am still a student doing my Masters in Germany. Could you please suggest me the best private health insurance or provide at least the information comparing the prices and support they can give for the health issues. It would be a great help if you can reply to my email.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/03/2018 at 19:04

      Hi there. There is a comparison tool in this post that you can use to compare prices.

  • Reply salamat Issah 22/03/2018 at 15:20

    hi good afternoon please I want to know if you are using AOK for five years and over and want to change to different health insurance card .my question is,iso it possible and how?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/03/2018 at 19:03

      Hi Salamat. It is possible yes. You can refer to the FAQ section of the AOK for more info.

  • Reply Jonas Sonnleithner 20/03/2018 at 21:30

    Hello Bastian,
    the health insurance topic seems to be the dog biting his own tail: during the application process for the National Visa here in UAE, the German embassy requests coverage of a German health insurance yet the German insurances require a German residency in order to provide an insurance plan.
    My wife (non-EU citizen) and I (German) are relocating this year from UAE to Germany. The visa requirements (for National Visa type D) state the requirement for a health insurance yet do not recommend any way to get there. As of re-entering the country I for myself can be insured on the statutory plan (and then insure my wife with Familienversicherung). Still proving this to the UAE – German authorities seams difficult.
    From your experience, would it work to sign up to ALC, Mawista or the likes for the transition period from National Visa to the residence permit? Technically it is not sufficient as the embassy requires full coverage as per their requirement being Section 257(2 )(a) SGB V.! However, I have not found a single insurance provider, which can be obtained from outside the country and would comply with the same law – or have I missed one?
    Looking forward to your comments, suggestions, help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/03/2018 at 18:56

      Hi Jonas. Yes, this is another well-know evil circle in getting visa. I am no expert into that kind of stuff and visa issues so i don’t want to lead you onto the wrong solution. I think Mawista and the sorts would be ok but make sure to check that with somebody more knowledgeable.

    • Reply Priya 30/12/2018 at 11:18

      Hi Jonas,

      I came across your comment when researching for health insurance requirements for German National Visa from the UAE.
      My husband is planning to apply for an German Blue card as he plans to work from March 2019 and i will apply for a family reunion visa at the same time of his application so we move together. We both are non EU citizens. (Indians)
      I have written to public insurance Cos such as TK and AOK, and awaiting a reply. In the meantime, it would be helpful to know which insurance proof did you provide in your National Visa application.

      Thank you for your help.

  • Reply aileen 13/03/2018 at 17:21

    Hello Bastien!

    Hope you are well! I had a question. I am from USA but here on a spousal visa (my husband is an employee for a start up). I currently have TK through him. TK told him that his spouse would be covered for free if I made less than 450 EURO a month. I just took a few small gigs but I believe that my freelance each month will be more than 450 EURO. If that is the case…. A.. Any recommendations of insurance programs I can get? B. Do I NEED to tell TK I have a freelancer gig that will give me over 450 EURO a month. ? Thanks!!!!!!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2018 at 19:10

      Hi Aileen. Freelancers earning very little are in a bad situation concerning health insurance because a lot of the income goes towards it. You need to let know TK about any change of situation yes. For any recommendations, you can read the post or call a broker.

  • Reply Ian 11/03/2018 at 13:19

    Hi Bastien, thanks for the great web site so full of useful information. I am a UK resident planning to live in Berlin for twelve months as part of a career break. This to have time with my young daughter who lives there with her mother (she will be starting school this year), and also to take language lessons. I intend to find a furnished apartment sublet to live in during this time, and will probably not be working. Can you tell me if I need to take out German health insurance or will I be covered by my UK EHIC?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/03/2018 at 11:02

      Hi Ian. In the first few weeks, you will be covered by EHIC card but you need to have a coverage that lasts beyond that. You can check with the NHS directly how long they will cover you abroad. I guess something max 3 months is the usual thing.

  • Reply Dore 10/03/2018 at 14:19

    First of all thanx alot for the useful info!
    second i wanted to ask you something regarding something you wrote… “You have to be insured by a public insurance company that your employer will most likely pick for you if it is your first job in Germany. Your employer will directly take over the payment of the coverage by paying its share and yours through your wage.”
    Does it mean that my work will choose the health insurance for me, i mean do all the bureaucratically stuff and then will deduct a certain amount from my salary every month, or i have to register my self with the health insurance and only then provide my employer with all the details?

    Thanx again!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/03/2018 at 18:14

      Hi Dore. You can go both ways.

  • Reply Stephen Jenner 01/03/2018 at 17:34

    Hi, thanks Bastien this is very useful. I’m a freelance UK citizen living in Frankfurt. I understand that I can opt for public or private insurance but even after reading up on the difference I’m not sure which one to choose. Is it just a case of whichever is cheapest, or are there other benefits to either system that I haven’t understood?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/03/2018 at 13:10

      Hi Stephen. Private is beneficial in the short-term because you pay a lower rate if you are young and in good health, but when you get old or you have a condition, the rate can go up significantly. It offers more perks too.

  • Reply fay 22/02/2018 at 18:44

    Hi Bastien, thank you so much for the informative post! I wanted to ask you regarding the health insurance, if you can kindly help me in any way. I am an international sutdent from a non-EU country coming to study masters in Germany. Since I am 30 years old, unfortunately all the public health insurance rate is double for me. But after searching online, I could not find the public health insurance that any 30 year old or above students can take. Can you kindly give me any suggestion/ recommendation regarding which public health insurances I can go for?
    Also, the other question is, if I go for private health insurance, do they cover tooth filling/ cavity filling or a bit serious one like root canal treatments? So far I have seen this one option daad’s semi private health insurance and their optimum package seems reasonable, but I am a bit worried if they will cover the dental treatments I asked you about, since this is one of my existing health condition. Anyway sorry for so many questions. Thanks in advance. And thanks for the elaborate post!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/02/2018 at 20:15

      Hi Fay. You can’t really go wrong with AOK or TK in my opinion. Both good options. Regarding your conditions, you have to check manually for each policy you consider what the extent of the coverage is.

  • Reply Stephan 16/02/2018 at 11:09

    Hi Bastien. Great site! Thanks very much.
    As for health insurance, it’s quite clear now how it works and what you pay.
    But what does it actually cover, and are there additional payments when you:
    – visit a doctor,
    – obtain medicine,
    – visit a specialist,
    – visit a hospital,
    – what about chronic condition treatment?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/02/2018 at 11:04

      Hi Stephan. you can check on any Krankenkasse’s website. All of the above are basic things/treatment and are covered by default.

  • Reply Benjamin 08/02/2018 at 11:45

    To begin with, I would like to express my eternal gratitude for your work. Your website has been an immense help to me and my girlfriend in our attempt to successfully move from Denmark to Germany.

    I’m currently in the process of applying for a German health insurance. I’ve decided to apply at TK due to their language resources. In the membership application, I’m asked to give my Health Insurance Number. For obvious reasons, I do not have a German number yet and my Danish number is apparently not valid. Do I just leave it blank?

    Thanks a lot

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 08:26

      Hi Benjamin. In that case, simply enter something like “Danish health insurance” in that field “Dänische Krankenkasse”.

  • Reply Raissa 31/01/2018 at 12:04

    Hi Bastian,

    I am from a non EU country and have studied in Germany for the last two years. I have AOK Insurance for students but in April 2018 I will start to work and of course switch to worker insurance contract.
    Now my question is :
    I would like to subscribe a health insurance for my family back home. Is that possible that I pay here and they can get health care back home?
    Thanks a lot for your Advice

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/02/2018 at 19:35

      Hi Raissa. No, they must be resident in Germany.

  • Reply Ari 26/01/2018 at 00:30

    Hi- I am a freelance web designer/architect and American citizen. My wife is a German-American citizen and she has a new job that is taking us to Germany. I’m seeing that my insurance on the public plan could cost as much as 800 or 900 euros. Is that true? This seems incredibly high. I am looking at KSK, but worry this might be difficult to join with a profession that is not classically artistic in nature. Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2018 at 10:01

      Hi Ari, if my sources are correct, the maximum monthly free for a freelancer staying in the public system (freiwillig versicherter Selbständiger) is 646€ for 2018. I don’t know where this 800€ number comes from?

  • Reply Luca 25/01/2018 at 14:59


    I am 29 years old from Italy, just arrived in Germany for working.
    I am in the lucky position where I earn enough I can choose between private and statuatory.
    I understood the main differences, but I don’t get why, when using online net income calculators the income taxes differs from private (more) to statuatory (less) Health scheme. Is it because it already accounts for some tax deduction about the health insurance?

    thank you

  • Reply Jane O'Neill 24/01/2018 at 04:36

    Hello Bastien,

    Thank you for this very helpful information. We are a family of four from Australia planning to settle for nine months in Berlin. I am planning to apply for an artist visa upon arrival. Above you have mentioned that “For a lot of foreigners applying for a German visa here for all sort of reasons, the solution here will be to sign-up for a German travel insurance provided by a German company. ” – would it be a good idea to secure German travel insurance before we arrive?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2018 at 09:47

      Hi Jane. These are questions to be answered almost case by case so i would invite to do your own research for artist visa as it may come with its own requirements.

  • Reply Ruth Nyirenda 18/01/2018 at 06:25

    I am Ruth Nyirenda your Zambia. I have been enrolled at university of Applied Sciences Europe in Germany. I wanted to apply for a health insurance for me to start processing for a Visa. The problem is that I am 35 years old and I do not qualify for student insurance at a public insurance company. Please help me to find a private health insurance which is well recognized and with reasonable contributions.
    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2018 at 19:48

      Hi Ruth. Sorry, i don’t provide that service.

  • Reply Swapnil 17/01/2018 at 12:18

    Hi Bastian,
    I come from a Non-EU country. Studied in Germany for two years. Have not yet been able to get a full time job due to lack of German skills. I got a 20 hour/ week job at my university for 3 months and therefore had to change from my previous private health insurance as a student to a public health insurance as an employee at the university. But my contract ended 31 december 2017 and for this month of January I am unemployed. For February and March I again have an employment of 16 hours/week. My question is that what do I do with regards to my health insurance for January? AOK guys said that you can pay some voluntary insurance of 180 euros. I do not want to pay that high an amount. I also asked them whether I can take a cheap private insurance for this month. They said it would be illegal. I am in a dilemma.
    Need your precious advice. Please help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2018 at 19:45

      Hi Swanpnil. I would take their offer, it is actually a very good one. Voluntary insurance in the public system often starts at around 400€.

  • Reply Mihir Patel 04/01/2018 at 09:41

    I am master student in germany and having AOK health insurance, paying circa 90 euro per month. my question is , what will be the cost ? in case, if i marry in my homeland and she will live at homeland not here in germany.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/01/2018 at 17:23

      Hi Patel. Being married doesn’t impact on the costs of your health insurance.

  • Reply Sonja Kohlöffel 06/12/2017 at 19:46

    Hi Bastian,

    I recently moved to Germany with my two sons 8 and 13,I immediately registered myself in the town I am living in and told them I do not yet have employment. I then proceeded to the AOK to register with them they told me I cannot register with them as I am unemployed and should therefore register with a private krankenkasse.. is there no possible way to register with a staatliche krankenkasse? I am in desperate need of some answers as I can’t let my boys not have any medical cover 🙁
    I hope you can help me

  • Reply Andra 21/11/2017 at 13:43

    Thank you very much for all the information!
    What I did not understand is that the health insurance is mandatory, even if I do not work/ study. I just moved in Munich, and I did not find a job yet. Should I search for an insurance company?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply Swapnil 17/01/2018 at 12:30

      Yes Andra. Unfortunately that’s mandatory even while unemployed. I can understand your situation because I am in similar shoes. That rule is kind of silly and redundant to me because one does not have enough funds to sustain oneself and being hammered by high insurance amounts in order to reside. You should look for some cheap options with private health insurance providers. If you got a mini-job with earnings upto 450 euros per month, you can continue with that. When you cross the 450 euros mark, you will be compelled to insure yourself with a public health Insurance provider. Most famous of them is AOK.

  • Reply Alex Federolf 09/11/2017 at 22:41

    Dear fellows, I’ve just arrived to Berlin directly from Brasil and I’m struggling to choose the best Krankenkasse for me and for my wife.
    The thing is, we’re both Brazilian and both European citizens with passports, (I have the German one) but both never lived here before. And we are currently unemployed. Which one should we chose? where to go? who can be kind and guide us through this bureocratic hole?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/11/2017 at 10:15

      Hi Alex, my recommendation is to always stay with a public Krankenkasse as it is the cheaper option in the long run for a similar service. TK or AOK is often said to have good customer service.

    • Reply Shane O'Reilly 15/11/2017 at 17:31

      Hey Alex, I’m Irish and my wife is Taiwanese. I was wondering what Visa you arrived on? I am trying to organise things here for a move.

  • Reply Agnieszka 09/11/2017 at 01:30

    Thank you for this website & information.

    Apologies if this has already been covered. It is very easy to get confused with all the details online.

    My situation:
    Polish born, left Poland when very young with parents & now living in Australia. I had my Polish citizenship re-instated recently.
    I am in the process of obtaining my Polish passport, with purposes to be able to relocate to Europe (Germany) arriving on my Polish passport as part of the EU.
    What are my options for general/emergency healthcare whilst I am in Germany (ie. break a bone, dentist cover, injury) & unemployed for the time when I am searching for work?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/11/2017 at 21:44

      Hi Agniezska. The first few weeks (or even months), you will be on your Australian insurance or travel insurance if you get one. If you can’t find work early enough before your coverage runs out, then you might have to switch to unemployment benefits to cover healthcare (ALG 2).

      • Reply Agnieszka 10/11/2017 at 04:02

        Hello Bastien,

        Thank you for your reply. I still feel slightly in the dark about the whole situation, as my case appears to be different from others (perhaps?).
        I currently have Private Health Cover in Australia. And it would be easy for me to obtain Travel Insurance.
        However entering Germany on an Australian Passport will mean that I can only remain in Germany for 90 days, pressure to find any type of job in Germany, whereas I would like to continue with my career (Medical Scientist).
        If I arrive on my Polish Passport, I will have freedom of movement as an EU citizen.
        What options do I have?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/11/2017 at 10:16

          Well then use your Polish passport and use your Australian coverage, why not?

  • Reply Adrian 06/11/2017 at 09:34

    Hi Bastien. Your site is an amazing find, full of information. Thank you so much! Can you please help me with my situation as I can’t really figure things out? I am a EU citizen and I recently started subletting a room in an a flat in Berlin. I will spend about 3 weeks in Germany every month. I plan on moving fully here in the next 6 moths. For the moment I am working remotely for my company back home.
    I would like to register for Anmeldung in the WG I live, in order to be able get SCHUFA and a bank account and rent a flat. Since I am not paid by a German company and I don’t live here permanently, after I get the Anmeldung do I have to start paying health insurance or am I covered by my the health insurance in my (EU) country?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/11/2017 at 19:01

      Hi Adrian, as long as you are working for this foreign company and they cover your health insurance costs through your home country’s system, you will be fine.

  • Reply matt 27/10/2017 at 18:45

    Hi Bastien, thanks for your post. I am due to move to Berlin and start a (low-pay) 6-month internship, and was going to bill the company as a freelancer. But now I have read that maybe I would have to pay around 350 euros per month to get health insurance if I do this (which is too much). What would you recommend? Do I have to be a proper employee to pay less for health insurance? (p.s. what about something like Mawista? Is this still an option?)

    Thanks a lot.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/10/2017 at 15:56

      Hi Matt. As mentioned in the post; if you are an employee, then health insurance is covered entirely through your salary. As a freelancer registered in Germany, you’d probably pay around that amount indeed. Mawista is not a Krankenkasse and is only suitable in certain cases for visas limited in time.

  • Reply Lu 18/10/2017 at 12:30

    Thanks for all the information!
    I have been living an working in Berlin since August and only just getting around to getting my health insurance. In this time I have received loans instead of my salary as I have not yet been added onto the payroll. Now when applying for my health insurance should I put the date I started working or the current date for ‘I’d like to become a member as of’? Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/10/2017 at 19:00

      Hi Lu. The first day you started working for them.

  • Reply Krystal Lumbreras 11/09/2017 at 17:18

    Thank you for the information! 😀

    I just arrive to Muenchen, and the insurance from TK is 90 euros, Do you know which intitution has the fee of 81?
    Also, if you can compare the different Public Health Insurances Institutions, Which do you pick up? Are there many differences between them?

    Thank you again!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/09/2017 at 19:16

      Hi Krystal, as mentioned in the article, there are no big differences between public Krankenkasse.

  • Reply mary 08/09/2017 at 02:26

    Hey! Thanks for this information. However, I am confused about something. I’ve been a student in Berlin for 2 years, and am about to apply for the “Residency for university graduates looking for employment” category of visa. Till now, I’ve been covered by a private insurance company, which should end in October 2017 officially (since I will no longer be a student after that). My appointment at the Ausländerbehörde Berlin, is in the mid of September. As one of the documents required at the Ausländerbehörde is a proof of health insurance, I’m wondering if my current one will cover that issue. If not, do I have to get another health insurance on my own? Or first get a job and hope for them to handle my health insurance? I’m really confused, so any help would be super!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2017 at 11:01

      Hi Mary. Those in-between situations are always confusing. I’m no expert on visa issues but i believe that in your case, the best case scenario would be to have a job which would cover your health insurance yes. In all cases, you need a coverage that is recognized by the German state. If unsure, it maybe best to call the foreigners’ office directly.

  • Reply sary 30/08/2017 at 17:53

    Thank you very much for such a helpful website, My question is : I have in Jun quitted my job and now the insurance company have sent me a message that I should pay for last month, apparently the company I was working for didn’t stop the insurance, is that the company’s responsibility or mine?
    should I pay for the last month ?
    Thank you vey much in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/08/2017 at 12:56

      Hi Sary. The company that employed you is covering your health insurance for the entire time you are working there. Anything after that is your responsibility, should you switch to another company or apply for coverage at the Arbeitsagentur for example.

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