Healthcare and Insurance for International Students in Germany: What You Need to Know

May 22,2024 ByUni-Access 1

Germany is well-known for its top-notch educational system and dynamic cultural environment, which draw a sizable influx of international students every year. Amid all the excitement that comes with studying abroad, insurance and healthcare are important considerations. For foreign students studying in Germany, it is crucial to comprehend the healthcare system and obtain the right insurance to guarantee both their legal compliance and general well-being. Get in touch with a study abroad consultant for Germany for helpful advice and support during this process. We cover all the bases when it comes to insurance and healthcare for international students studying in Germany in this extensive guide, giving you the information you need to handle this part of your study abroad experience with ease.

Understanding the German Healthcare System

Germany boasts one of the most robust healthcare systems globally, characterized by universal coverage and high-quality care. The system is predominantly funded through statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, or GKV) contributions, which are mandatory for most residents, including international students. Here's an overview of the key components:

  • Statutory Health Insurance (GKV): The majority of residents, including employees and some self-employed individuals, are enrolled in the statutory health insurance system. Contributions are typically shared between employers and employees and are based on income.
  • Private Health Insurance (PKV): While statutory health insurance is the norm for most, certain groups, such as higher-income earners and self-employed individuals, have the option to opt for private health insurance. International students under the age of 30 and those with income above a certain threshold may also opt for private insurance.
  • Healthcare Providers: Germany boasts a vast network of healthcare providers, including hospitals, clinics, general practitioners (Hausarzt), specialists, and pharmacies, ensuring access to comprehensive healthcare services.

Health Insurance Requirements for International Students

When studying in Germany, international students need to make sure they have sufficient health insurance to fulfill visa requirements and protect their health while they are there. Here's what you should be aware of:

  • Compulsory Health Insurance: Throughout their time studying in Germany, international students must maintain health insurance coverage. Depending on your eligibility, you may be able to do this through either private health insurance or statutory health insurance.
  • Statutory Health Insurance (GKV): Most international students under the age of 30 and enrolled in a recognized university or educational institution are eligible for statutory health insurance. They can opt for coverage through a public health insurance provider upon enrollment.
  • Private Health Insurance (PKV): International students who do not meet the eligibility criteria for statutory health insurance, such as those above the age of 30 or with sufficient income, may opt for private health insurance coverage from a recognized provider.
  • Health Insurance Certificate: When requesting a student visa or residence permit, international students are required to present evidence of their health insurance coverage. Usually, their insurance company will provide a health insurance certificate (Krankenversicherungsbescheinigung) in this format.

Choosing the Right Insurance Coverage

Selecting the appropriate health insurance coverage is essential for international students to ensure comprehensive protection and compliance with visa requirements. When selecting insurance, take into account the following factors:

  • Coverage Scope: Evaluate the extent of coverage provided, including medical treatment, hospitalization, medications, preventive care, and emergency services.
  • Cost and Premiums: To discover an insurance plan that meets your needs without sacrificing coverage, compare the premiums and out-of-pocket costs of several providers.
  • Provider Network: To be sure you have access to high-quality care nearby, check the network of medical professionals connected to the insurance plan.
  • Additional Benefits: Take into account any other benefits that the insurance company may give, such as emergency repatriation or coverage for dental or vision treatment.
  • Policy Terms and Conditions: Review the policy terms and conditions, including coverage limits, exclusions, deductibles, and claim procedures, to make an informed decision.

Accessing Healthcare Services in Germany

Once enrolled in a health insurance plan, international students can access healthcare services in Germany with ease. Here's how to make your way around the medical system:

  • Finding a General Practitioner (Hausarzt): When you first arrive, register with a general practitioner (Hausarzt), who will be your main point of contact for medical attention and, if necessary, referrals to specialists.
  • Specialist Care: Seek referrals from your general practitioner for specialized medical care, such as consultations with specialists or hospital treatment.
  • Prescription Medications: Obtain prescription medications from pharmacies (Apotheke), present your insurance card to cover the costs, or seek reimbursement later.
  • Emergency Services: For immediate assistance in the event of a medical emergency, call 112 or go to the closest hospital emergency room (Notaufnahme).

Health Insurance Providers for International Students

For international students studying in Germany, several health insurance providers offer coverage tailored to their needs. Here's a list of some prominent health insurance providers catering to international students:

  • TK (Techniker Krankenkasse): TK is a prominent statutory health insurance company in Germany, providing international students with low rates and extensive coverage. Throughout their stay in Germany, international students can receive assistance from them in several languages through specialist services and support.
  • DAK-Gesundheit: DAK-Gesundheit is another major statutory health insurance provider that offers coverage to international students. They provide a wide range of services, including online consultations, preventive care programs, and access to an extensive network of healthcare providers.
  • AOK (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse): AOK is a leading health insurance provider with regional branches across Germany. They offer statutory health insurance coverage to international students, along with various health promotion initiatives and support services.
  • Barmer: Barmer is one of the largest health insurance providers in Germany, offering comprehensive coverage and personalized support to international students. They have a user-friendly online portal and mobile app for easy access to services and information.
  • CARE Concept: CARE Concept specializes in health insurance solutions for international students and scholars, offering a range of comprehensive plans tailored to meet visa requirements and provide peace of mind during their stay in Germany. They offer flexible coverage options and multilingual customer support for international students.
  • HanseMerkur: HanseMerkur offers private health insurance plans tailored to the needs of international students who are not eligible for statutory health insurance. Their plans provide extensive coverage, including medical treatment, hospitalization, and emergency services, with flexible options to suit individual preferences.
  • Mawista: Mawista specializes in providing health insurance solutions for international students and travelers. They offer both statutory and private health insurance plans tailored to the specific requirements of international students studying in Germany, including coverage for repatriation and emergency medical evacuation.
  • Dr. Walter GmbH: Dr. Walter GmbH offers international health insurance plans designed for students and scholars studying abroad, including those in Germany. Their plans provide comprehensive coverage for medical expenses, emergency services, and other healthcare needs, with options for customizable coverage periods and benefits.

It's crucial to take into account aspects like coverage breadth, premiums, provider network, extra perks, and customer support services when selecting a health insurance company for overseas students studying in Germany. You may make an informed choice based on your unique needs and preferences by carrying out in-depth research and evaluating various insurance policies. Understanding the German healthcare system, meeting insurance requirements, choosing the right coverage, and accessing healthcare services are integral aspects of ensuring your well-being during your studies abroad. Choosing the best health insurance plan for your time in Germany can also be aided by speaking with the international student office at your university or by getting advice from a study abroad consultant for Germany. You can prioritize your health and safety and have a good academic experience in Germany by being proactive and aware.