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In Germany, Health insurance is required for all citizens, as well as for foreign visitors and expats. Learn how German health insurance works, what type of coverage you need when visiting Germany, and how to apply. 

Germany has an excellent public (statutory) healthcare system, whereby all residents can access comprehensive medical care. While the public healthcare system is funded primarily by insurance contributions from employers and employees, it is also heavily subsidized by the German government so that the unemployed or low-income people are still covered and can get the medical care they need. Every German resident must have public health insurance; unless they belong to the small percentage of the population with private health insurance.

The German health insurance system 

Every resident of Germany is legally required to have health insurance. By law, you must have a health insurance plan (called a Krankenkasse in German) that provides at least the minimum level of coverage.  

Unless you have insurance, foreigners won’t be allowed into Germany at any cost. No matter whether you’re a foreign student, a foreign scientist or researcher, a foreign worker, a refugee, or an asylum seeker, this applies to you. Both your intention and the length of your stay will not matter. 

When you live in Germany, you have three options for health insurance: government-regulated Public Health Insurance (GKV), private health insurance from a German Insurance Company (PKV), or a combination of the two that supplements coverage not included in your public health insurance policy. 

The German public health insurance system is known as Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV), which translates to ‘statutory health insurance’, and around 90 percent of the population is covered by it. You are required to enroll under a public, statutory health insurance scheme if your gross salary is less than €66,600 per year(2023) and you may choose an insurance provider. 

Health Insurance in Germany – when should I get it? 

Those who have moved to Germany to work from another country in the EU should obtain German health insurance as soon as possible after arriving and registering to live in Germany. Germany offers a short grace period from your registration date, and your employer will be able to guide you through the process.   

Public health coverage in Germany – how to get it ?

The first step in getting registered is to talk to your employer, even if you have already received a job offer. However, you can pick your own provider and do not have to go with that chosen by your employer.  

Germany’s largest health insurers are TK, AOK , Barmer, DAK. These companies provide good English language websites despite there being over 100 of them (a complete list can be found here).

A provider may offer slightly different rates and incentives, such as cashback if you stop smoking or do fitness activities regularly, so do your research and see what your options are. 

A health insurance provider will issue you an insurance card, called a Gesundheitskarte in German. You must present your insurance card each time you see a doctor, as it contains a chip that stores your personal information. 

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How much does it cost

According to the Federal Health Insurance Act, you contribute between 14.6% and 15.6% of your salary to public health insurance in Germany (e.g., you contribute 7.3%, and your employer matches the rest). Your minimum contribution is €180/month, while the maximum is around €€706,28/Month + additional contribution of up to 1.7% + compulsory nursing care contribution of 3.05% (or 3.3% if you do not have children) for the year 2021 , regardless of whether your Paycheck increases.

Public health insurance – what does it cover? 

  • In-patient (hospital) care as a ward patient  
  • out-patient care from a general practitioner or medical specialist (such as a cardiologist)  
  • prescription drugs 
  • pregnancy care
  • Rehabilitation(home care or physiotherapy) 
  • Health checks from the age of 35 
  • Cancer screening 
  • Basic dental care 
  • Employee sick note  
  • Statutory Sick Pay when the employer’s duty to pay it is over (up to 90 percent of your net salary) 
  • Medicines, dressings, therapies, and aids such as hearing aids or wheelchairs 

As an added benefit, under your plan, you will have no extra charges for all non-working dependents, including your spouse, civil partner, and children (up to a specified age). All they need to do is be registered with the same health insurance company as the paying member. 

Even though public healthcare insurance in Germany includes a wide range of services, additional services may require additional payment, so make sure you know what you are covered for. For example, Dental insurance covers basic dental care, but more appealing teeth cleaning may be charged separately.  

Health Insurance Card (Gesundheitskarte) in Germany 

You will receive a health card (Gesundheitskarte) from your provider as soon as you have registered for health insurance in Germany. In order to avoid having to pay up front for medical treatment, you will have to provide this every time you seek health care. 

TK public health insurance in Germany 

A public healthcare fund is administered by more than 100 non-profit insurers in Germany. Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is one of Germany’s largest and most popular (as well as award-winning) public healthcare funds. A total of 8.8 million people are insured with Techniker Krankenkasse in Germany. 

In addition to basic healthcare, (TK)  covers the cost of dental hygiene appointments, which many other providers do not offer, as well as comprehensive sickness insurance. It is a popular choice among members who don’t speak fluent German because of the excellent online support and advice as well as the English-language application process and customer portal. You can reach TK support seven days a week. 

A great benefit of (TK) ‘s health insurance plan is that many of its services are geared toward preventing illness and promoting healthy lifestyles for long-term health and vitality. The center offers a variety of free or reduced-cost preventative health, fitness, exercise, mental well-being, and nutrition classes to its members. 

Aside from covering members in the EU, TK offers EHIC coverage to those traveling outside those countries. Traveling members can also access vaccination advice via the fund’s TK-TravelMedi number.


How to cancel to insurance plan? 

If you stop working in Germany, your social security contributions will cease automatically; however, to cancel a private insurance plan, you will need to contact the insurer. 

Can I buy more than one health insurance plan? 

The answer is yes, you are free to buy another plan based on your specific medical needs. 

What if I forget to renew my premium? 

An insurance company will give you 15-30 days grace if you miss the deadline for renewing your health coverage. You may be denied coverage, denied policy renewal, lose your no-claim bonus, or be required to serve with waiting periods if you fail to pay your premium during the grace period again. 


Become part of our thriving community of German expats. Connect with fellow members to seek advice, share experiences, and get answers to your questions on living, working, insurance, and more. Join us today and tap into a wealth of knowledge and support for your expat journey in Germany.


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We want to be transparent with you. This article contains affiliate links, which means that when you click on them, we may receive a small bonus. Rest assured, this will not affect the price for you. Instead, it enables our dedicated Vanakkam Germany Team to continue delivering valuable content and improving our services. Your support is greatly appreciated as we strive to serve you better.

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