Health Insurance ("Krankenversicherung")
All researchers and their accompanying family members must take out a health insurance policy in Germany and you will require proof that you are insured before you can obtain a residence permit and enter into an employment contract. The policy must at least cover medical treatment in the event of serious illness or accidents. The two types of health insurances in Germany are the statutory health insurance companies and the private health insurances.
- Research visit based on a fellowship
If you fund your stay in Germany independently or by means of a fellowship, you have no alternative but to take out private health insurance cover. (possible exception: EU-citizens; see below)
- Research visit based on an employment contract
If you have an employment contract, you must be insured with a statutory health insurance ("gesetzliche Krankenversicherung").
- Statutory health insurance
The level of contributions to statutory health insurance providers has been standardised. The benefits of statutory health insurance are also largely standardised. There are, however, differences in additional contributions and benefits, optional premiums and customer service. As you are free to choose your statutory health insurance provider, it makes sense to compare the benefits on offer. Contributions for health insurance cover are deducted from your gross salary at source.
By contrast to private insurance companies, statutory insurance providers pay the costs to the doctor or hospital directly. You merely have to present your insurance card before treatment.If your marital partner or children are accompanying you to Germany it may be possible, under certain
circumstances, to insure them on the same policy at no additional cost (family insurance). In order to benefit from this offer, the family members must be registered in Germany as their main residence.
Only in extremely exceptional cases and only if a social security agreement has been signed with Germany, the health insurance regulations obtaining in your own country may continue to be valid. Please make sure you enquire with your health insurance provider at home whether this is an option for you.
If your gross annual salary regularly exceeds 54,900 EUR (as of 2015), you are free to choose between a statutory health insurance provider and a private health insurance company.
- Private health insurance
If your stay in Germany is based on a fellowship and not an employment contract you will usually be
exempt from statutory social security contributions. You must, however, ensure that you have adequate health insurance cover. Barring certain extremely exceptional cases, you will have to take out private insurance cover.
As private comprehensive insurances are very expensive, many providers offer special tariffs for international researchers who are only staying for the duration of a research visit. The services and tariffs contained in these contracts are different from those of private comprehensive insurances and should not be confused with them. Whilst the latter are much more comprehensive they are also considerably more expensive. It is very important to note that most costs incurred for illness predating the stay in Germany will not be covered. Provided that you respect import regulations, it may, therefore, be wise to bring any necessary medicines with you from home. Insurances also tend to exclude pregnancy, dental treatment and mental health disorders.
- Special case: EU citizens
EU citizens should initially enquire with their health insurance provider at home whether their domestic insurance cover will continue to be valid during the stay in Germany. If this is the case, you can choose a German statutory health insurance provider as a representative to settle the costs of any doctors’ visits with your domestic provider. You will receive the same benefits from the German health insurance provider for yourself and any members of your family who are also insured as you would if you were registered with a German statutory health insurance provider.If it is not possible to continue being insured with your domestic health insurance provider you have the choice of either registering voluntarily with a statutory health insurance provider in Germany or taking out a private travel and comprehensive insurance (see above). Particularly if you are only making a short visit, you can also use your European Health Insurance Card when consulting a doctor.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
To facilitate treatment during temporary visits abroad, every health insurance scheme is obliged to issue its members with a European Health Insurance Card. In case of illness in another EU country,or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, medical services are provided according to the laws of the host country and reimbursed according to the charges applying there.
However, the EHIC only has limited scope which means it is advisable to take out an additional insurance if you are staying for a longer period of time. The European Health Insurance Card is, for example:
■ only valid for essential medical services (the relevant doctor will decide what is essential)
■ not valid for trips abroad specifically for the purpose of treatment
■ not valid for the costs incurred in transporting an invalid home
Guide for International Researchers, chapter 8:Concerning social security in Germany. Read more here (page 96) (617.8 kB)
Source: passages taken from EURAXESS, partly translated by: Dr. Lynda Lich-Knight, ResearchComm Ltd.
Partly translated by: Dr. Lynda Lich-Knight, ResearchComm Ltd.
Please note that the information provided by the Welcome Centre is not legally binding and is not intended to replace or substitute for information provided by professional experts for each individual topic.
We recommend you to also consult the diplomatic mission or your local Foreign Citizens’ Office for more detailed information on your individual case.