In Germany, having health insurance is a legal requirement. As you must also provide proof of this for a residence permit, please check in good time beforehand whether your health insurance is sufficient for Germany or whether you need to apply for new health insurance in Germany. If there is an insurance agreement between your country and Germany or if EU rules apply, you can sometimes also transfer your health insurance.
Insurance providers in your own country can tell you whether your insurance cover is valid in Germany. Accidents, medical treatment and stays in hospital must be covered. If your cover is adequate, you will re- ceive, on application to your own country’s health insurer, a correspond- ing certificate of insurance (called form S 1 in the EU) to confirm this. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) serves as proof that you are en- titled to necessary medical treatment during a temporary stay in Ger- many, in other words in a country other than your country of residence (other EU/EEA countries and Switzerland).
Basically, if your health insurance cover is not or not adequately cov- ered in Germany, it is advisable to take out additional health insurance for a longer stay. During your time in Germany, the insurance from your own country can probably be suspended on consultation.
Please check the situation regarding insurance cover with your health insurer in your own country before leaving:
Can you and your family transfer your health insurance cover?
Is this sufficient for Germany?
Must you or should you take out additional insurance (such as travel health insurance)?
What is the situation regarding payment for services during illness – by a health insurance card or by reimbursement of the bills?
Which health insurance is the right one for you?
In general, there are two types of health insurance in Germany – private and state. As a general rule, fellowship holders can only take out pri- vate insurance. Under certain circumstances fellowship holders have the option of taking out state health insurance. The institute office will be able to give you a leaflet on health, accident and third-party liability insurance as it relates to fellowship holders. However, if you have a contract of em
ployment and an annual salary that for three consecutive years is more than 52,200.00 euros (as at 2013) you can choose between state or pri- vate insurance. If you have a contract of employment and an annual sal- ary that is below that threshold, you must take out state health insurance.
Your institute will be able to give you the names of various health in- surance providers and health insurance schemes. Before leaving your home country, you should then arrange insurance cover to start from the time of your arrival in Germany. Please note that, particularly with private insurance providers, there are very considerable differences in the scope of the benefits provided, and therefore in the rates charged. For example:
exclusion of pre-existing conditions, severe disabilities and existing pregnancy or impending birth when the cover was taken out
excess payable family insurance
If you are a holder of state health insurance you can take out additional private insurance, for example to reduce your own contributions towards the cost of special dental treatment or consultant fees in hospital.
Please be sure to obtain thorough advice and, again, make sure you compare what the different insurance companies offer.
The benefits of state health insurance schemes are roughly the same; however, there are differences in customer service, supplementary benefits and optional rates. Family members are co-insured without contributions un- der certain conditions, for instance if they themselves do not earn any money.
State health insurance schemes currently have a standard contribution rate though this might change at some point in the future. Around half of this is paid by your employer, the rest by yourself; it is deducted directly from your gross salary. Privately insured persons pay the entire contribu- tion themselves. Privately insured employees get an employer subsidy on their private health insurance if the private health insurance meets certain conditions (§ 257 SGB V (social security code)).