Entering Germany with private health insurance that’s valid in Germany may seem like the sensible thing to do, especially if you’re already signed up in your home country and want to continue with that provider when you arrive in your new country of residence. However, ex-pats living in Germany who are eligible for state healthcare don’t actually need private health insurance – this article explains why and what you need to know about German state healthcare instead.
What Does German State Healthcare Offer?
The German healthcare system (called Statutory Health Insurance, or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung in German) covers most health services and medical treatment. However, it doesn’t cover everything — for example, dental care and cosmetic surgery aren’t covered by state insurance. As you can see from our infographic above, private health insurance is required if you want to receive certain types of medical care in Germany. If you don’t have private health insurance, but need these kinds of treatments, there are two options available to you. One option is that your doctor will provide a Rezept für Arzneimittel bei Nicht verschreibungspflichtigen Heilmitteln (prescription for drugs used in non-prescription remedies), which allows you to purchase these medications at a pharmacy without paying out-of-pocket costs.
ALSO, CHECK; Who are those eligible to register for NHIS?
How to Avoid Private Health Insurance
Expats living in Germany are eligible for state healthcare, which is funded by social security contributions. However, higher earners must sign up for private health insurance, which can offer shorter waiting times and better hospital conditions. However, these services come at a price that often equals more than an individual ex-pat can afford each month. Because most foreign residents qualify for state healthcare plans like GKV or BKK, it’s typically not worth investing in private insurance. The only exception to this rule is if you have specific medical needs (e.g., high-risk pregnancy) that don’t meet German standards of care. In such cases, private insurance may be necessary to ensure your quality of care meets your expectations. To learn more about how to get health insurance in Germany as an ex-pat, check out our guide here.
Can Expats Access Private Insurance if They Left Their Home Country Late?
If you weren’t able to sign up for private health insurance before you left your home country, don’t worry. You may still be able to access it if you moved to Germany late in life. However, depending on how old you are, there may be restrictions on coverage and your monthly premium will likely be higher than an older person’s. As with anything else in life, it’s better to start planning ahead as early as possible—you might just save yourself a few hundred dollars! • Under 30 years of age? Join GKV-PV (no age limit)
• Between 30 and 50 years of age? Join AOK Baden-Württemberg (30 – 45), AOK Bayern (30 – 49), or Barmer GEK (40 – 55)
• Over 50 years of age? Join Barmer GEK or BUH Plus or BUH Classic, depending on your location. Also consider joining BKK Pfalz Classic or Pfalz Spezial. You can also join TUV Nord/Schleswig-Holstein/Niedersachsen as long as you have lived in one of these three states for at least 12 months.
Do You Really Need German Health Insurance?
Expats living in Germany are eligible for state healthcare, which is funded by social security contributions. However, higher earners must sign up for private health insurance, which can offer shorter waiting times and better hospital conditions. But do you really need insurance? The short answer to that question is no. The more detailed answer involves three points: 1) In many cases (but not all), people with a European health card can use any German hospital or doctor.