Health Insurance in Germany
  • Eduzeit
  • 2 years ago

Germany is a dream country for many, both old and young. Since it is the third most popular European education destination, it is important to know a few aspects of this country before enrolling in any form of educational activity here and one of them is the mandatory requirement of health insurance for students in Germany.

Before one begins their education journey in this land of opportunities they are required to apply for and get their health insurance approved. If not they won’t be eligible for education or any form of activities here. 

Depending on your circumstances, one can be eligible for two types of health benefits in Germany i.e Public Health Insurance and Private Health Insurance.

Types of Health Insurance and Their Benefits

Health insurance in general is meant to cover medical expenses that come from illness. Now depending on the type of health insurance, the types of illness it covers may vary. But they generally cover hospitalization costs, medicinal costs, and doctor consultation fees. 

As for the two types of Health Insurance in Germany for Students, they are as follows:

Public Health Insurance

In this type of health insurance, one can get financial coverage for all the medical coverage that one requires to become a healthy person or to maintain their health. Public Health Insurance also covers the cost of a consultation with doctors and hospitals bills. 

This type of health insurance in Germany for students is not concerned with medical examination, age, or income of the students since Public Health Insurance is maintained by the federal state. So, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria to get one, they can make full use of Public Health Insurance.

Private Health Insurance

These are Health insurance that is run by private health insurance companies. As a result, unlike public health insurance, your current health, age, and income does matter in order to be eligible here. Along with this, since this type of health insurance in Germany is maintained by private firms, the area of cost coverage will depend upon the policy that you choose. That being said, private health insurances do have some basic cost coverage on:

  • In-patient Hospital Services

  • Outpatient Hospital Services

  • Medications

  • Ambulances

  • Basic Dental Care

If you are tight on budget, you can skip the extra cost coverages and pick an offer that covers just these basics. While you will be missing out on the extra benefits, your basic health cost will be taken care of. 

Health Insurance for Students

Not all students are treated the same in Germany; at least in terms of health insurance. Depending on the status and the age of students, the health insurance in Germany for their students varies. While this may sound unfair, it should be noted that not all students share the same eligibility criteria nor are of the same type. The following are the types of Health Insurance in Germany for the Foreigners in Germany who come to this land for Education, Employment, or Asylum. 

Health Insurance for Foreign Students

As mentioned, a student needs to have health insurance in order to study in Germany. But since the federal system cannot provide a public health system for every foreign student, they have set a few criteria. In order for a foreign student to become eligible for public health insurance in Germany, they should be:

  • Under 30 years of age

  • Enrolled in a degree

  • Not have Health Insurance from their home countries that are valid in Germany

However, these three eligibility criteria can be a bit deceiving. Yes, indeed you just need to be someone who is under 30 years of age and be enrolled in a degree to get public health insurance in Germany. But this means that these three criteria disqualify anyone who is:

  • More than 30 years of age

  • Freelancers

  • Self Employed personnel

  • Not enrolled in degree programs 

  • Post Graduates in Scholarship holders without the contract of employment

  • Guest Scientists and Researchers

  • Not enrolled in Degree

Since Students either remain in Germany even after they graduate or don’t just enroll in a Degree, there is quite a bit who are left out of this loop. Thankfully, Germany has a plan for each of them.

Health Insurance for Language Course Students

While these students are not enrolled in a degree, they are still technically students. So although these students are not eligible for Public Health Insurance in Germany, they are fine for private health insurance. A hidden benefit of not being eligible for public health insurance for language course students is that they are free to search for freelancing jobs or be self-employed and earn some money. 

Although the money they can earn will be quite limited due to their limited time, if they find the right type of employment or create the right opportunities, language course students can sustain themselves through their employment be itself made ones or freelancing ones. 

The health Insurance Situation for Language Course students can be summarized as:

  • Not eligible for public health insurance

  • Can be registered with a private insurance provider

  • Can only register with a public health insurance provider once they are enrolled in a degree program 

  • Should register with private health insurance providers as soon as they find work

Health Insurance For Preparatory Course Students

Here is a thing, while Preparatory course students are technically students since they are not enrolled in any degree or other courses they are not qualified as ones. Preparatory Course Students are after all still being engaged in courses that are preparing them to be formal students. As such, although these students are not eligible for Public Health Insurance in Germany, it is a rather temporary situation. 

Should they get enrolled in a Degree after their preparatory courses are over, these students will be fully eligible to get Public Insurance. To do this they will need to pass an exam known as “Feststellungsprüfung”. At the same time, if they are not able to enroll in a degree, they will need to continue with their private health care insurance. 

This means that these types of students will need to have Private Health Insurance in Germany if and until they become enrolled in some form of degree, before the age of 30. Or in Other words they:

  • Are not eligible for Public health Insurance until they join a degree

  • Should pass the exam known as Feststellungsprüfung in order to be eligible for public Health insurance in Germany

  • Need to Register for Private Insurance before they pass this exam

  • Should not cross 30 years of age

Health Insurance For Exchange Students

Exchange students are somewhat of an odd case when we talk about Health insurance in Germany. While they are technically fully-fledged foreign students enrolled in a degree, due to their short stay, they may not need any form of Health Insurance at all. 

An average stay of an exchange student in any institute or a country ranges from 6 months to a year, which in the context of health insurance, is a rather short duration. But despite this relatively short duration, they do enjoy the full benefit of the Public Health Insurance in Germany should they choose to. In other words, Exchange Students get the same treatment as Foreign students who are under 30 and are enrolled in a degree, at least when it comes to the context of Health Insurance in Germany. 

Health Insurance for International Ph.D. Students/ Candidates

The context of Health Insurance in Germany for Ph.D. students or Candidates is another odd case. The best answer to “ What type of health insurance in Germany is a Ph.D. student eligible for?“ depends on their state of employment and their age. 

Health Insurance in Germany for Ph.D. students based on their age

Since a lot of those who are involved in Ph.D. in Germany are older than 30 years of age, they generally cannot get Public Health Insurance. Hence, for the most part, Ph.D. students and candidates are only eligible for Private Health Insurance. 

But there is a grey area here. Since Ph.D. is a degree, if the candidates are under the age of 30 and unemployed, they can apply for Public Health Insurance. In this case, the Ph.D. students will be treated the same as foreign students who are enrolled in a degree. 

Health Insurance in Germany for the Ph.D. Students based on their Employment Status

If the Ph.D. student/candidate is a staff member of a University in a lecturing position or as a research assistant, they are enrolled as employees in a Public Health Care Insurance. This is because people who work in these posts are less likely to earn enough money to meet their daily needs and pay for Private Health Insurance at the same time. 

They will however be required to contribute 7.3% of their salary along with the 7.3% of their salary from their institute as compensation.

On the other hand, if the Ph.D., Student is not unemployed, should they still be under the age of 30, the Ph.D. students will be eligible for Public Health Insurance in Germany. 

In other words, this can be termed as:

  • Ph.D. students can generally only get public health insurance if they are under 30 and unemployed

  • Should the Ph.D. Students are over 30 and Employed, their institute will create public health insurance for them under the term “Employees in Public Insurance Plans”

  • If the Ph.D. student is over 30 and unemployed, they need to issue a Private Health Insurance

Health Insurance for Guest Workers and Guest Scientists

Since Guest workers and Guest Scientists are not exactly students, we are going a bit out of context here. But despite being guest workers and guest scientists they can still be a student in one form or another so, this is somewhat of a grey area. 

That being said, when we talk about Health Insurance in Germany for these groups of people, they are not eligible for the Public one. At the same time, since these guest workers and scientists normally stay in Germany for a relatively short period, they normally don’t issue health insurance in Germany. Should they stay for an extended period, they must register with Private Health Insurance - unless they have one that is valid in Germany. 

In other words, Guest workers and Scientists are only eligible for:

  • Private Health Insurance if they stay for an extended period

  • If they have health insurance that is accepted in Germany, Guest Students and Scientists can use it

Health Insurance for Refugees

Refugees are not students - but they can be. In general refugees in Germany are not eligible to apply for health insurance. That being said Refugees do get basic health assistance but they will need to request approval from the authorities. If they want to bypass this, they will need to get a card called “Health card for Refugees”. 

This is a legal way of bypassing the need for approval from authority and is provided by the federal states after a person has been a refugee for more than 15 months. Since this card is issued by the states, the access level of this card and the location depends on the federal state since, in Germany, each state has its own rule for the health system including a Health insurance policy. 

They can issue Medical Assistance through the Asylum Benefits Act should they become eligible. For a refugee to become eligible to request medical assistance it has to be when:

  • Asylum procedure is still processing their request, they have a tolerated stay which is also known as Bildung. 

  • They are issued a border crossing certificate known as Grenzübertrittsbescheinigung

Should they be eligible, they would get some benefits like:

  • Proper treatment for severe illness

  • Medical care for pregnant women including prenatal and postnatal care

  • Basic Dental Care

  • Vaccination

At the same time, the refugees can apply to become students in a university to enroll in a degree as well. Should they get enrolled, they will be given the same privilege as the ones given to foreign students. This means that if a refugee who is under 30 years of age enrolls in a degree, s/he will be eligible for Public Health Insurance in Germany, 


FAQ: Will I get my health insurance money back in Germany?

 Answer: You may qualify to get a no-claims bonus or premium refund if you didn’t claim within the past year. In simple terms, if you have paid your full installment amount to your Private Health Insurance Company and have not submitted any claims from January to December then you will be eligible to get your money back given that you are still contradicting with the Health Insurance Provider. 

End Notes

Earlier we mentioned that some foreign health insurances are valid in Germany. These include health insurance from the EU, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Tunisia, and Turkey,

If one is from these countries, they won’t be eligible for any form of health insurance in Germany. Hence it is a bit of good advice to check with their health service providers to check for the services that their health insurance covers in Germany. 

At the same time, if the student from EU/EEA  (Europian Union/ European Economic Area) is working while being a student or in a paid internship, they need to get German Health Insurance. 

Along with this, it is a good idea to know a few outstanding Public Health Insurance

Best Public health insurance contributions for 2019/20:

  • TK (Techniker Krankenkasse) : 105,80 € (€103.94 per month for students up to the age of 22)

  • AOK Baden Württemberg: 107,29 €

  • Barmer 108,77 €

  • KKH (Kaufmännische Krankenkasse) 111,75 €


The general gist is that unless you are a Foreign student under 30 who is enrolled in a degree, you will have to apply for Private Health Insurance. They are the only ones who are eligible for Public Health insurance in Germany. Either you have to be one or someone who has the same criteria as these foreign students. Along with this, to get compulsory health insurance in Germany as a foreign student, or foreigner in general, you should not be employed in general. 

If you found this helpful, you can check out: The Secrets to Cost of living in Germany

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