The health care system in Germany is known as one of the best in the world. All nationals and residents of Germany have to obtain health insurance, as do tourists.
This article will detail the healthcare system in Germany, the types of German health insurance, as well as where foreigners factor into it.
Is Travel Insurance for Germany Mandatory?
Yes, if you are applying for a visa for Germany, travel insurance is mandatory. You have to present proof of travel health insurance along with your Germany Schengen Visa application.
In fact, every German resident (citizen or expatriate) must have valid health insurance since it is required by the German health care system.
- You may be asked to show proof of travel health insurance at the port of entry in Germany; and/or
- It is a smart decision because you don’t know what may happen on a trip abroad. Although Germany has a great health care system, the prices of healthcare can be too high for certain third-country nationals, and if you have travel health insurance, it can drastically reduce the cost of any medical expenses that may arise.
Additionally, travel insurance does not only cover medical expenses. Trip cancellation, delayed flight, loss of personal items, and more can be included in Schengen travel insurance plans.
German Travel Health Insurance Requirements
Just as with German residents, temporary visitors in Germany also have to obtain health insurance coverage. Since Germany is a Schengen country, visitors have to get travel health insurance that’s in line with Schengen requirements.
As such, German travel health insurance must follow these specifications:
- It must have a minimum coverage of at least €30,000 per person.
- It must cover all other Schengen Area countries.
- It must cover the entire duration of your stay as well as the transit.
- It must cover any unexpected medical expenses such as urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment as well as repatriation.
You can find a travel health insurance plan for Germany that fulfills all of the Schengen insurance requirements at Dr. Walter – PROVISIT VISUM, which offer great and affordable plans for travelers who plan to stay abroad short-term.
What Does Germany Travel Insurance Cover?
What you want to be covered by your Germany travel insurance depends on the specific plan which you purchase, however, most plans offer coverage for the following:
- Medical treatment. The amount of coverage depends on the specific plan. However, most Schengen travel insurance plans include doctor consultations, emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs and medicine, etc.
- Cancellation, interruption, or curtailment of your trip. If for some reason, your trip is canceled or interrupted, you will be covered for any lost expenses related to travel and or accommodation. The company or travel insurance plan you choose decides which reasons are considered acceptable for reimbursement.
- Missed flight. If you missed your flight due to no fault of your own (ie. the airline rescheduled or had a delay) the insurance company will cover any expenses related to it.
- Repatriation of remains, in the case of death. (Overseas funeral expenses can also be included).
- Lost, stolen, or damaged possessions.
In most cases, Schengen travel health insurance does not cover:
- Pre-existing medical conditions.
- Medical incidents as a result of alcohol consumption.
- Accidents as a result of taking part in dangerous sports.
- Pregnancy and maternity. Travel insurance plans do not cover expenses related to a normal pregnancy, such as giving birth, general check-ups, or morning sickness. There are plans that do cover complications of pregnancy.
You may be able to include coverage for some of the aforementioned situations (such as accidents due to dangerous sports or the acute onset of a pre-existing condition) if you pay extra.
Germany Travel Health Insurance for EU Nationals
If you are from another member state of the EU or EEA, then you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when visiting Germany. Your EHIC will give you access to basic health care in Germany in the same manner as German citizens.
However, the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, therefore you will likely also have to purchase a private travel insurance plan as well to have extra protection.
How to Get German Travel Insurance?
You have to purchase Germany Schengen visa travel insurance from a private health insurance company. You can visit a local health insurance company in your country or you can purchase it online. You must make sure to find travel health insurance that is in line with Schengen visa requirements, as detailed above.
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How Much Does Germany Travel Insurance Cost?
The price of travel health insurance for Germany depends on the following factors:
- Your age. Travel insurance plans increase in price with the age of the applicant. The older you are, the more you’ll likely have to pay for travel health insurance.
- Amount of coverage: You can choose how much you want to be covered in your travel insurance plan. The more things you add, the more you will have to pay.
- Duration of the trip: When you look for travel health insurance plans for Germany, you may notice that many insurers charge plans per day. As such, the longer you intend to stay, the more you will have to pay.
Keep in mind: You get what you pay for. If you choose a plan simply because it is the cheapest, if you get sick you will most likely have to pay a large sum out of your own pocket. Cheaper plans usually include very limited coverage.
An affordable option for travel insurance for Germany that follows the Schengen requirements is Dr. Walter’s PROVISIT VISUM, which is suited for travelers who plan to stay in Germany short-term.
Understanding the German Health Care System
The most important thing to know about the German health care system is that it is mandatory. All nationals and temporary residents in Germany have to pay for health insurance every month. The cost of health insurance in Germany comes down to two main factors:
- Your income and employment status
- Whether you are paying for Public or Private health insurance. In most cases, you do not really have the option of choosing: public health insurance is the mandatory option for the majority of people.
Does Germany Have Free Healthcare?
No, Germany does not have free healthcare. Technically, no country has free healthcare, since you have to pay for your medical expenses somehow. In the case of Germany, German residents pay for health insurance every month, therefore it is not free. You have to pay for health insurance whether or not you get sick. However, if you do get sick and need to visit a doctor, your hospital or medical bills will be covered by your health insurance – at least partially.
Public vs. Private German Health Insurance
There are two main providers of health insurance in Germany: public or “statutory” health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung).
Public Health Insurance in Germany
Nearly everyone who lives in Germany on a long-term basis has to sign up for public health insurance. Things you should know about public health insurance in Germany include:
- Cost: The price of German public health insurance contributions (what you pay on a monthly basis) depends on your income. It 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.
- Your employer pays half of your contributions: If you are employed, your employer will pay for half of your contributions and will deduct the other half from your salary. So, approximately 7% – 8% of your salary goes to your health insurance.
- Equal coverage: Just because people with higher salaries pay more, it does not mean that they have better coverage. Everyone has equal coverage, regardless of their income or age.
- Prices do not increase with age: Unlike private health insurance, older citizens/residents do not pay more than someone younger. In fact, if you are retired, you will have to pay
- You can include your dependents on your own insurance: If you have children or your spouse is unemployed (or has a low income), then you can include them on your own health insurance with no additional cost.
- Who can opt-out: If your income is above a certain amount (appx. € 59,000 per year), then you can opt-out of public health insurance and obtain private health insurance instead. If your annual income is less than € 59,000, then you must get public health insurance.
Private Health Insurance in Germany
Individuals with an income higher than € 59,000* per year can choose to obtain health insurance from a German private health insurance company rather than a public one. Some characteristics of private health insurance in Germany are:
- It can be cheaper if you are young and healthy: If you have a high income, private health insurance in Germany is usually a less-expensive option since it functions much like private health insurance in all other countries: you have to purchase a policy and you get what you pay for.
- It is more expensive the older you are: Private health insurance companies usually charge people who are older more due to the rising risk of health problems.
- You may not be covered for pre-existing conditions: Some companies may refuse to cover any conditions that existed before you purchased the policy.
- You may not be able to get back on public health insurance: If you have already opted out of public insurance, then they are not obligated to accept you unless your income has suddenly dropped below € 59,000.
- 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 have to choose what you want covered: if you want to be insured by a German private health insurance company, then you have to select a plan which has the desired amount of health coverage for your needs. The more you want covered, and the lower your deductible is, the more you will have to pay.
*This amount is subject to change based on new legislatures in Germany, and should only be considered an estimate.
For more coverage, expats in Germany who are not eligible for private health insurance choose to get it as addition to their existing public health insurance. You can find great health insurance plans designed for foreigners in Germany on PROVISIT.
How Much Does Health Insurance in Germany Cost?
The cost of your health insurance in Germany changes depending on the type of health insurance you have and your employment status:
- Cost of public health insurance in Germany for employees: If you are insured with a public health insurance company, you have to pay 14.6% to 15.6% of your salary in contributions per month (you pay half, your employer pays half). The minimum you have to pay is € 180, whereas the maximum is around € 400. Even if your salary is higher than € 59,000, you will not pay more than the maximum amount.
- Cost of public health insurance in Germany for freelancers: As a freelancer, you have to pay the entire cost of your contributions (14.6% to 15.6% of your income). In this case, the maximum amount you may have to pay is about € 800 per month. Even if you make more than € 59,000 per year, you won’t have to pay higher than the maximum amount.
- Cost of private health insurance in Germany: If you are employed, your employer has to cover half of your health insurance contributions, even if you have private health insurance. The prices of private health insurance plans depend on:
- The amount of coverage you want
- Your age (the older you are, the more you pay)
- Whether you have any pre-existing problems or health issues (you pay more if you do)
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