Health insurance choice

The German health care system is divided into a statutory and a private health insurance. These differ in terms of benefits and contributions. 

When can I only take out private health insurance?

If you belong to one of the groups listed below, you will only be able to obtain insurance from a private health insurance provider (you will not be eligible for statutory health insurance). 

When choosing a provider, it is important to consider what the insurance covers, what it costs and how you can apply for the policy (e.g. online or in a branch).  

When can I choose between statutory health insurance and private health insurance?

If you belong to one of the groups listed below, you will be able to choose between statutory and private health insurance.

To register at a German university, you will need to provide proof of health insurance. In Germany, you are required to have health insurance cover in place for your entire stay. You can choose between statutory health insurance and private health insurance.

Exception: If you are over 30 years of age, you will only be able to take out private health insurance. During the first three months of your course, you can switch from statutory to private health insurance or vice versa. After this point, your decision will be binding for the remainder of your studies and you will not be able to switch between statutory and private health insurance. However, you can still switch providers within the health insurance systems (e.g. by moving from one private insurance provider to another).

How do I get an exemption from statutory health insurance?

1. Statutory health insurance while studying at a university

If you want to take out statutory insurance, the statutory health insurance provider will give you a “Bescheinigung zur Vorlage bei der Einschreibung an einer Hochschule” (a certificate that you present when you register at a university). You should submit this document to your university when you register. Your monthly premium will be between €100 and €110.

2. Private health insurance while studying at a university

If you want to take out private insurance, you will need to apply for an exemption from statutory health insurance. You can apply to any statutory German health insurance provider (e.g. AOK, DAK or Barmer) to obtain this exemption. You must apply within three months of starting your course. Private health insurance usually costs between €30 and €40 per month.

To get an exemption from the requirement to obtain statutory insurance, you will need to contact a statutory health insurance provider directly. The statutory health insurance providers often have representatives working from offices at German universities. Even if you visit an office in person, you must apply for an exemption in writing. Please take your valid private health insurance certificate with you, as you will need this to obtain the exemption. German universities will only accept your private health insurance certificate in conjunction with a statutory insurance exemption certificate.  

Tip: If you take out private health insurance, you’ll save around €60 a month. If you wish to do this, you must obtain an exemption from statutory health insurance during the first three months of your course.  

Working part-time alongside your studies?

If you decide to work part-time alongside your studies, the money you earn will affect whether or not you can choose between private and statutory health insurance. If your earnings exceed €450 a month, you will be required to pay social security contributions and your employer will automatically arrange statutory health insurance cover. In such cases, you will no longer be able to opt for private health insurance. If your monthly earnings from your part-time job are €450 or less, your health insurance options remain unaffected and you will be able to choose between private and statutory health insurance.

How do I apply for health insurance?

You can apply for health insurance in person by visiting one of your chosen provider’s branches, or you can apply via the provider’s website.

Depending on the health insurance provider you choose, they may only be able to provide advice in German or, to a limited extent, in English. Most private health insurance providers give you the option of applying for insurance in various languages. Their customer service teams will also speak a number of languages.

If you decide to apply for private health insurance, remember the following points:

How to identify good health insurance cover:

Services

Customer service

Monthly costs

Insurance cover

Cost reimbursement types

Cost reimbursement procedure

Persons who cannot obtain insurance

Limitations on insurance cover

Similar topics

Find out more about the German health system

How does the German healthcare system work?

In the German healthcare system, there are two types of health insurance – statutory health insurance and private health insurance.

How do I apply for a residence permit for my stay in Germany?

To apply for a residence permit, you will need to prove that you have valid health insurance in place. Find out where you can apply for a residence permit and which other documents you will need to present here.

What should I do if I have COVID symptoms?

If you have any symptoms that could indicate a COVID-19 infection, please contact a doctor. Speak to the doctor on the phone before you visit the practice.

What do I need to do if I get ill or injured?

If you get ill or injured, you should contact a doctor. With most health insurance policies, you can choose your own doctor.