Health insurance for foreign students in Germany

Health insurance in Germany

Germany offers a very good level of medical care and has a structured health insurance system in place (statutory health insurance companies and private insurers). All students can obtain low-cost insurance.

All foreign students in Germany require health insurance. Enrolled students are virtually always compulsorily insured (German Social Security Code V, Paragraph 1 Clause 9). This means that all students are insured by a statutory health insurance company. Proof of health insurance is a necessary condition of enrolment.

Examples of statutory health insurance companies are AOK, BARMER, DAK, HEK, KKH, IKK, and various company health insurance funds. Most statutory health insurance companies allow membership applications to be made online.

Which health insurance company is responsible for issuing certification of insurance?

Applicants receive the certification of insurance required for initial enrolment from the health insurance company or private insurer with which they are insured or are assumed to be insured as a member or as a family dependent at the time of commencement of studies.

Applicants who wish to be exempted from mandatory insurance receive their certification of insurance from the health insurance company that issues the exemption.

Exceptions from compulsory insurance:

Students from countries with which there are social insurance agreements

Social insurance agreements are in place with some countries, including member states of the European Union and the European Economic Area. If you have statutory health insurance in your home country, you can apply to have this insurance cover recognised by a statutory health insurance company in Germany.

Students from EU states usually obtain an international insurance card in their home country (EHIC – European Health Insu­rance Card). This is also recognised in Germany (including when visiting the doctor). Please use this certification to register with a statutory health insurance company.

This company will then provide confirmation that the health insurance required for enrolment at an institute of higher education is in place.

It may be the case that your insurance does not cover all costs in Germany.

Please make precise enquiries as to which benefits you are entitled to receive in Germany before entering the country. Health insurance policies that limit costs of treatment or duty to provide benefits are not recognised in Germany! If you do not have any insurance cover in your home country, you will still be required to take out insurance in Germany just like all other students.

Private health insurance policies from other countries may be recognised in Germany under certain circumstances. You should clarify the details of this with your insurance company.

If your private insurance policy is recognised, you will need to obtain confirmation that you are exempt from mandatory insurance with a statutory health insurance company before you can enrol. Application for such an exemption needs to be made to the statutory health insurance companies in Germany. Please note, however, that exemption always applies to the whole of the duration of the course of study and cannot be revoked. This means that it is no longer possible to transfer to a statutory health insurance company!

Since the law does not precisely define what constitutes “sufficient health insurance cover”, the following minimum requirements have become established in practice:

Outpatient treatment including:

Providers (insurance agents and insurance companies) will give confirmation for government authorities on request.

Some Aliens Departments will not require any further evidence of insurance for students who have already demonstrated to their institute of higher education that health insurance is in place at the time of enrolment. Certification of enrolment is then sufficient.

Exceptions from compulsory insurance

Certain groups of persons do not have the possibility of obtaining insurance from a statutory health insurance company. These groups of persons are as follows.

These groups of persons are not usually offered health insurance by specialist health insurance companies due to the fact that they hold “fixed-term residence permits”. The private insurance sector has developed low-cost special tariffs for such groups.

Insurance cover for a period of up to 5 years is offered within the scope of so-called travel health insurance for foreign visitors. The insurance provides the necessary cover for acute illness (doctor and hospital treatment) and benefits for pregnancy and birth (after a qualifying period of 8 months).

Benefits such as the treatment of existing conditions and check-up’s are not normally insured.

Insurance cover should be taken out for the whole of the possible period of residence in each case due to the fact that insurers may refuse extensions. Some providers exclude pre-existing conditions (illnesses or pregnancies that have occurred in the first period of insurance) when extending cover.

Contracts which contain customer-friendly insurance conditions may, however, be terminated at any time by giving notice of termination to the end of the month.

It is a good idea to take out personal liability insurance. This is, however, not compulsory for obtaining or extending a residence permit.