If wanting to come to Germany as foreign worker or visiting academic you normally stay for a longer period of time – for example one or two terms or some years – For this time you need to have health insurance in Germany because it is obligatory here. The appropriate acknowledgement has to be shown at work, at university, at the registration office and for the visa. The German Health System is one of the best in the world but it is however not the cheapest. Without insurance big medical treatments are not payable for private person and you also should calculate the monthly fees for the insurance when budgeting. If you want to save some money in this area you should consider some small advice.

Foreign Workers

It depends on your home country what kind of insurance is necessary and what things need to be considered when choosing an insurance. For citizens from countries, which are members of the European Union there are special social insurance conducts and different regulations. Even more countries from the European Economic Area have such conducts with Germany. This is so far the first thing to check. If there is a social insurance conduct, you need to have an insurance when working in Germany. It doesn’t matter if you are employed or self-employed. There are however some exceptions from this rule: Those working in Germany but also being self-employed in a different country can have an insurance from either Germany or his home country. Furthermore you do not have to take a German insurance if the employment in Germany is fix-termed and does not last longer than 12 months. In this case you do need the form E101.

Foreign workers from countries, which aren’t members of the European Union and do not have a social insurance conduct do need an insurance in Germany and in this case it doesn’t depend on the length of the stay. You can either become part of the compulsory insurance in Germany or get the private insurance. If you want to become part of the compulsory insurance you need to get a residence permit and a working permit for Germany. These can be applied at the German embassy.

German Health Insurance System

The monthly fee for compulsory insurance in Germany is calculated from the income of the insured person. A part is being paid by the employer and the other part by the employed. The compulsory insurance gives a basic and solid protection and shall be open for every one and guarantee medical treatment for everyone.

The private insurance instead calculates the fee depending on age and health status of the insured person. In contrary to the compulsory insurance the basic idea with the private insurance is not that solidary but every insured person pays his or her own risk. The private insurance offers the possibility to get some advantages and individual benefits. For foreign workers and visiting academics it could be a problem that the private insurance in some cases requires a minimum time of residence in Germany or you need to be part of the insurance for a long time period. But some private insurance providers offer special contracts for foreign persons with longer stay in Germany that suit their situation.

These offers often include extra benefits such as return transport to the home country. This should be considered with other insurance types as well. In case of a long-lasting or grave injury or in case of death such a return transport can become necessary and you should have it insured.

Both, foreign workers and visiting academics should be careful that their insurance covers the following points:

  • Ambulant and residential medical treatment
  • Basic dental treatment
  • Costs for medicines and pharmaceutical products
  • In case you need it – glasses or contact lenses
  • Accidental additives
  • Curative treatment (e.g. physiotherapy, massage, etc.)
  • Transport to the next hospital
  • Pregnancy and treatment of the newborn
  • Return transport to the home country in case of very fatal disease or injuries as well as in case of death
  • Visit of a relative person in hospital
  • Furthermore, there can be a need of insurance for working accidents or risks caused by the work or research area.

Academic Visitors

Researchers, who get invited to a German university or industrial research institution need health insurance in Germany, too. During their stay they do research projects or teaching. If you want to take your family on the trip you also need to be sure that all family members have insurance protection. Especially academic visitors from non EU countries should get information about health insurance in Germany as soon as possible. The residence permit for Germany is only issued if you can proof necessary insurance. If the proof is not valid this can be the end of the planned trip. It is therefore even more important to get the information early and to be protected broadly during the time abroad.

For citizens from countries, which are members of the European Union there is no need for an additional German health insurance. Because of the social insurance conducts between the countries, the former insurance is also valid in Germany. You only need the so called European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and sometimes the forms 1 or 101 for the administration offices. Even if this is a possible solution you should check the contract of the insurance to be sure what benefits are covered in Germany and if there is broad protection. You should also check if the insurance is valid for family members as well.

If staying in Germany for a longer period of time (some years) and being an official resident there you can also become part of the German insurance system in you want to.

If you have a gainful employment at the German university there is an obligatory insurance in Germany. In this case it is possible, that the university as employer takes part of the costs for health insurance and you become part of the German insurance. If this is part of your stay also look at the rules for foreign workers in Germany (see above).

Visiting academics with boundary are only able to get a private insurance. It is not possible to become part of the compulsory insurance with a boundary. But normally the boundary covers some of the cost for health insurance or you can ask for more help. The private insurance has the advantage of individual benefits but is also more expensive than the compulsory one.

If you want to save money when taking insurance, you should compare the different providers and insurance types. You can also use an insurance calculator on the internet so you can get the best price.