Complete guide to obtaining health insurance for foreign workers in Germany

The requirements for German health insurance for foreigners living in Germany are the same as they are for German nationals. The health care system in Germany requires that all German residents (foreigners and nationals) must have some type of health insurance.

Do I Need Health Insurance for German Work Visa?

Yes, all foreigners who apply for a German visa, regardless of the purpose of the visa, must have valid travel health insurance at the time of application. However, travel insurance for Germany is not the same as the health insurance you need if you want to live in Germany long term.

International workers will (in most cases) have to subscribe to a public health insurance company in Germany once they settle and started working. However, before you travel to Germany, you will have to purchase a travel health insurance plan which will cover you for the initial period of your stay. You won’t be able to apply for a visa unless you have purchased adequate health insurance.

What Does German Health Insurance for Foreigner Workers Include?

The German public health insurance scheme offers coverage for the following:

  • Hospitalization.
  • Out-patient care from a doctor or medical specialist.
  • Prescription drugs and medicine.
  • Pregnancy care.
  • Dental care (basic).
  • Statutory Sick Pay. It will cover up to 90% of sick pay for up to six months.

However, public health insurance will not offer coverage for more complicated dental procedures, such as implants or bridges, neither will it cover glasses, lenses or private rooms in the hospital. For this reason, many choose to get a supplemental private health insurance plan.

How Can Foreigners Get Health Insurance in Germany?

If you are employed, it is usually your employer who will register you with a public health insurance provider. However, you do not necessarily have to go along with the same insurance company that your employer chooses. You can choose another one, but you will have to notify your employer. Even if you choose a different company from what your employer offered, including a private company, they will still pay half of your monthly contributions for you.

There are two types of health insurance for foreign workers in Germany:

  • Public (statutory) German health insurance. Nearly 90% of all German residents are covered under the public health insurance scheme, which as the name implies, is mandatory. Only certain categories can choose to obtain private health insurance instead.
  • Private German health insurance. The remaining 10% of German residents are covered under a private health insurance plan. However, there are restrictions regarding who is allowed to obtain their health insurance from a private company

>> Travel insurance options for Germany

Do I Qualify for Private Health Insurance in Germany?

As a foreign worker in Germany, you can only opt for private health insurance if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have an income of at least € 59,000 per year or approximately € 4,900 per month.
  • You are a freelancer or self-employed in Germany.
  • You only get private health insurance as a supplement to your already existing public/statutory health insurance. In this case, you would pay for both public and private health insurance.

If you meet all the requirements above, you can purchase a private health insurance plan for foreign workers at Dr Walter.

Foreigners in Germany who do not qualify for private health insurance sometimes choose to get it as an addition so they can receive coverage for things not included in their public health insurance plan.

Additionally, some German private health insurance companies will only accept to cover you if you have been living in Germany for a minimum of two years.

Should I Get Private or Public Health Insurance as a Foreign Worker in Germany?

As a foreign worker in Germany, you will most likely receive your health insurance from a public company. You are obligated to register for public health insurance if you have an annual income of less than € 59,000. However, this amount is subject to change based on new legislatures in Germany, and should only be taken as an estimate.

Quick facts about private health insurance for foreign workers in Germany

Here are some quick facts regarding private health insurance in Germany for foreign workers:

  • It can be cheaper – but only if you are young and healthy. For people with a high income, private health insurance in Germany is usually a less-expensive option since it doesn’t increase with the salary. However:
    • You may not be covered for pre-existing conditions: Some companies may refuse to cover any conditions that existed before you purchased the policy.
    • It will become more expensive with age: Private health insurance companies usually charge people who are older more due to the higher risk of health problems.
  • It can be a better option for freelancers: Since freelancers have to pay their entire contribution themselves, private health insurance may be the better and cheaper option for them.
  • You can get more coverage. Private health insurance companies offer coverage for a broader range of health problems than public companies. However, with every additional thing you want to cover, you will have to pay more.
  • If you want to get back on the German public health insurance scheme, you may not be able to.

If you want to choose a private health insurance company to provide coverage that the public health insurance plans do not offer, we recommend you purchase Dr. Walter’s health insurance plans for foreign workers in Germany. Dr. Walter offers affordable health insurance plans for foreign workers in Germany.

Quick facts about public health insurance for foreign workers in Germany

Here are some quick facts about public health insurance in Germany:

  • The monthly contributions depend on your income. German public health insurance contributions can range from 14.6% to 15.6% of your salary per month. Therefore, the higher your salary, the more you will have to pay for health insurance. However, if your salary is higher than € 59,000 per year, your monthly contributions no longer increase, meaning you’ll pay the same amount in contributions as if your annual income is €59,000.
  • If you are employed, you don’t have to pay the entire amount yourself. Your employer will pay for half of your contributions and will deduct the other half from your salary. So, you will each contribute approximately 7% – 8% of your salary toward your health insurance.
  • Self-employed people or freelancers pay the entire contributions themselves. With no employer to cover half of the monthly contributions, freelancers and self-employed people in Germany have to cover the entire cost themselves. Learn more about health insurance for freelancers/self-employed in Germany below.
  • You receive the same amount of coverage as someone who pays more. Just because someone has a higher salary, and therefore contributes more to health insurance, it does not mean they have better coverage. Under the statutory health insurance scheme in Germany, everyone receives the same health care, regardless of income, age, or health condition.
  • You do not pay higher contributions as you get older. Unlike private health insurance, older citizens/residents do not pay more than someone who is younger. In fact, if you are retired, you will have to pay less, since healthcare contributions are calculated on your current income – aka, your pensions.
  • You can include your dependents. If you have minor children or a spouse with no income, then you can include them on your own health insurance with no additional fees or increase in contributions.

Health Insurance for Self-Employed and Freelancers in Germany

Freelancers and self-employed foreign workers in Germany can choose what type of health insurance they want: public or private.

Any German resident who is self-employed had to pay all their monthly health insurance contributions themselves. Up until 2019, there was an estimated monthly income (€2,284), and you had to pay contributions based upon on that estimated income, which amounted to approximately €420. Even if your actual income was lower than €2,284 (foe example, you only earned €1,000 that month, you were still required to pay €420 in health insurance contributions. Because this often proved to be too costly, many freelancers or self-employed workers in Germany chose to get private health insurance instead.

However, from the start of 2019, public health insurance has become more affordable to self-employed workers or freelancers with a lower income, because the estimated minimum income dropped from €2,284 to €1,038. Therefore, if you earn less than €2,284, you now have to pay only about € 190 in monthly contributions in public health insurance.

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