Every international student who wants to study in Germany is required by law to have proper health insurance before university enrollment and student residence permit application.
Some universities in Germany might also require foreign candidates to be health insured at the time of application for a degree course.
How Do International Students Prove They’re Properly Health Insured?
To prove they have taken proper health insurance, international students must provide valid evidence to immigration authorities in Germany and their chosen universities. Foreign students can do this through proof of health insurance for foreign students in Germany.
But, how does proof of health insurance look like and where can students get it?
Usually, when international students get health insurance their provider issues them a membership card or a certain confirmation letter. However, foreign students must always remember that none of it will be sufficient to prove proper health insurance has been taken well on time.
Instead, students have to request a specific insurance certificate which will serve for the following purposes:
- To either show the student is sufficiently insured in Germany or
- Show that the student is exempted from the German compulsory health insurance scheme.
Formats of this insurance certificate may change depending on the provider, but the purpose is still the same.
Students can submit an insurance certificate once for the entire duration of their studies unless they decide to switch university.
An important note: Many international students have asked what happens if the certificate from their health insurer does not come through before the day of enrollment. This rarely happens, but if by any chance students get to deal with this situation there’s no need to worry.
Universities in Germany will enroll international students as long as they provide enough evidence to prove they’re in the process of getting a certificate of health insurance. Students are recommended to ask their provider for a specific letter which would be sufficient at this stage. Whatsoever international students have to bring their health insurance certificate as soon as they get it.
Health Insurance Requirements for Foreign Students
The whole German health insurance system is organized into two categories:
- Public Health Insurance
- Private Health Insurance
Residents can also get a combination of two.
Furthermore, several foreign health insurances are recognized in Germany. Therefore international students have a lot of options.
To be deemed valid and sufficient every health insurance plan must provide certain coverage. The list of medical coverage and benefits every health insurance plan must offer residents is defined by governmental laws. However, the Federal Joint Committee in each federal state has the authority to determine specifics of health insurance policies applied in that part of the country.
Public health insurance is designed so it provides coverage for a set of basic medical needs. Any health insurance plan international students want to take must at the very least provide that same coverage.
Central and local authorities in Germany regularly check if accredited insurance providers are complying with legal requirements concerning medical coverage they offer. Thus, if an international student has taken health insurance in Germany he/she can have peace of mind knowing his/her insurance plan will be recognized.
On the other hand, international students willing to enter Germany while being insured in their home country must always make sure their current insurance plan provides medical benefits as mentioned above. For that purpose, it is recommended for them to reach their insurance provider and ask whether their insurance covers them while in Germany.
Private or Public Health Insurance for Foreign Students
The type of health insurance one is required to have depends whether he/she is:
- Full-time student
- Preparatory course student
- Language course student
- Exchange student
Health Insurance for Foreign Full-time Students in Germany
By law, international full-time students in Germany are entitled to public health insurance scheme in the first place.
However, those who fall in any of the categories below are exempted from German statutory health insurance
- Students who have taken health insurance in their home country and that is recognized in Germany
- Students who are aged 30 or older at the time they commence their studies in Germany
- Students who are attending their 14th semester or higher in Germany
- Students who work as freelancers or are self-employed.
Are there exemptions to the age limit?
Yes, there are.
According to law, those who have taken German statutory health insurance before turning 30 can request an extension of their membership given that they have provided strong reasons.
In the following circumstances foreign students aged over 30 can stay insured under the German statutory health insurance
- The student has turned 30 years old a few months after enrollment at university.
- The student had to temporarily leave education for completing military of civilian service. After getting back at university the student will be entitled for public health insurance as long his/her service had lasted.
- Prolonged illness or disability issues
Foreign students must however keep in mind that statutory health insurance takes as long as their time out of education due to personal reasons has lasted. At the very maximum, they can request public coverage for up to 14 semesters after their turn 30 which means until they turn 37 years old. After that age there are no alternatives except taking private health insurance.
To get German compulsory health insurance, foreign full-time students must bring the following document to a public health insurance provider
- Passport or ID
- Passport Photo (Very important)
- University admission letter
- Bank account or IBAN number
- A certificate from local residence authority in Germany
International students who have obtained public health insurance in any of the countries given below are exempted from the German statutory health insurance scheme:
EU countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey.
Nevertheless, full-time students can switch to private health insurance only three months after their enrollment. If they decide to stay insured under the health insurance they’ve taken in their home country they won’t be allowed to take German statutory health insurance for the entire duration of their studies.
International students are always recommended to check for potential restrictions and criteria. German health insurance system is clearly one of the best in the world and there is hardly any other one to offer the same extent of coverage and benefits.
Thus, even a foreign statutory health insurance plan is deemed valid in Germany it might offer limited coverage. For peace of mind, international students have to consider membership at the German public health insurance scheme.
Health Insurance For Foreign Preparatory Course (Studienkolleg) Students in Germany
International students who have to attend a preparatory course either for becoming proficient in the language of instruction or meeting academic requirements are not entitled to statutory health insurance in Germany.
Instead, they’re required to have private insurance until their preparatory course is over and they have made into the regular course. It is not mandatory for a private health insurance to provide the same coverage as its public counterpart.
Foreign preparatory course can also get private insurance for a certain period of time (90 days at the minimum) after which they extend it again. Private health insurance for foreign preparatory course students must provide coverage to an amount of €30,000 at the minimum.
If at the time their attending their preparatory courses students are engaged in work activities they have access to German public health insurance. For detailed information concerning this issue they’re recommended to ask their employer.
After preparatory course is over and they have made into the regular course, students can switch to statutory health insurance if they’re aged under 30.
Health Insurance For Foreign PhD Students in Germany
Foreign PhD students must have private health insurance in order to be allowed to study in Germany. But there exemptions to this.
If a foreign PhD student has been covered by public health insurance in Germany before starting his regular PhD course then he/she is free to choose between private and public health insurance.
On the other hand, if a foreign PhD student has never been undertaking public health insurance in Germany or an EU/EEA country he/she is required to get private health insurance. Moreover, if the student is working at the same time and earning more than €450/month he/she has to be insured as an employee. In that case, the student will immediately be entitled for the private health insurance scheme and won’t need a confirmation for exemption from statutory health insurance.
PhD students who are studying in Germany on scholarships and have a residence permit for 12 months must pay for health and nursing care with their scholarships. The cost of monthly premiums changes depending on the amount of scholarship.
A foreign PhD student can also remain insured at no cost under his/her family insurance. This applies if the scholarship is exempt from taxes, student’s spouse/wife has statutory health insurance.
Health Insurance For Exchange Students in Germany
Exchange students can either get public or private health insurance as long as legal requirements are met.
Exchange students who are already insured in their home country and their insurance is recognized in Germany are exempted from German statutory health insurance. This applies to students coming from countries to which Germany has signed social security agreements mentioned.
If an exchange student is holding private health insurance he/she must first check if his/her insurance plan is valid in Germany and provides the same coverage. In case current health insurance is deemed insufficient the student can get public health insurance in Germany.
Exchange students must keep in mind they have to privately cover medical expenses in Germany and claim reimbursement afterwards. Often times the process of reimbursement takes a lot time, thus students are highly recommended to consider taking German statutory health insurance.
Health Insurance For Foreign Language Course Students in Germany
Many international students go to Germany to attend language courses. Usually, these study programs last from four to eight weeks. During all this time, foreign language course students are legally required to be properly health insured.
German health insurance law treats all foreign students who have a short-term residence permit in Germany in pretty much the same fashion. That said, foreign students attending language courses in Germany are exempted from the German statutory health insurance scheme no matter their origin and their age.
Students who come from EU/EEA and other countries with whom Germany is engaged in reciprocal social security agreement can enter the country while being insured at home as long as their insurance is deemed valid in Germany.
German health insurance companies charge foreign language course students with affordable monthly premiums. Depending on what coverage and benefits students want to have the cost of health insurance varies from €28 to €35 per month.
Foreign Health Insurance in Germany
There are several private health insurances taken elsewhere which are recognized in Germany. In order for students to know if this is the case with their private insurance, they must ask their insurance provider.
Despite this, international students will still have to register to public health insurance in Germany which will issue a confirmation letter if the student is free from having to obtain German compulsory health insurance.
On the contrary, if neither a foreign public or private health insurance is recognized, international students are obligated to get German statutory health insurance. Except for insurance providers, proper information about this issue can also be requested at the international office at the German university the student has chosen.
German statutory health insurance does not cover foreign students for travel-related costs in non-EU countries. On the other hand, students who want to have travel insurance while moving within the EU must initially claim an EHIC card to be covered if for example their flight is cancelled or their luggage has been lost.
Germany is part of the common European health insurance scheme known as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This means students from EU countries don’t need to get German statutory health insurance unless they want to.
Even if that is the case a copy of the EHIC card is not sufficient proof of health insurance to enroll at university and get the residence permit. Also, immigration authorities and enrollment boards will still require a confirmation from a public health insurance provider to show you’re properly insured in Germany.
How to Find a Health Insurance Provider?
While the government makes it mandatory for every student to be health insured to stay in Germany, it is upon their choice which provider to take as long as coverage is sufficient.
Health insurance companies in Germany have a significant extent of independence to decide over specifics of benefits they offer and supplemental rates they charge. Due to that, international students must pay close attention to finding a suitable health insurance provider.
The process of finding a health insurance provider is easy and simple to follow as explained below
- First, find an insurer which offers attractive insurance plans at a reasonable price
- Next, students must reach them by email to inquire information about submission procedures or check their website is such information is already being provided there. Usually, there is a particular section for online applications where students are required to input some basic personal data including name, address, email, phone number, date of birth, passport number, etc.
- Specify which insurance plan they want to take and how they plan to pay for it.
- After the application is properly completed students receive a confirmation letter on their email. The application will be processed within 24 hours following submission.
- Students can ask for their insurance policy to be sent through email or by post.
How to Switch Health Insurance Providers in Germany
Foreign students are allowed to take foreign health insurance which covers them for at least 90 days or three months. Once they get enrolled in a German university and their insurance plan is about to expire they can either decide to stay with that insurance company or switch to another. If they decide to remain insured in their home country they must know they won’t be allowed to switch to any kind of German public health insurance afterwards for the whole duration of their studies in Germany.
International students who are insured under a public health insurance company in Germany cannot switch provider within 18 months. Also, students are required to send a notice two months ahead.
On average foreign students who are aged over 25 and have no children pay around 70 to 80 for German public health insurance. Nursing care insurance is also included in this payment. Students aged under 25 and who have no children can stay insured as a dependent of a family member who has already enrolled in the German statutory health insurance scheme. This is known as co-insurance.
The cost of health insurance in Germany will significantly increase after students turn 30 and over. Basic monthly premiums for these students are around €100 and will increase regularly as they get older.
On the other hand, the cost of private health insurance is much higher. Private health insurance has a wide variety of health insurance plans. Therefore, the cost of private health insurance in Germany depends on the extent of the coverage and the benefits a student is looking to have.
Health insurance costs in Germany are continually rising to cover the medical needs of the ever-growing population. However, public health insurance providers aim to charge international students with much affordable subscription premiums.