As soon as you are a resident in Germany or have your habitual residence, you are subject to compulsory health insurance in Germany. This is also the case if you do not have a permanent job yet. You have to register with a statutory health insurance company of your choice in Germany.
Please note: The compulsory insurance in the statutory health insurance (GKV) takes effect automatically and also retrospectively! If your registration for membership in a health insurance company is delayed, this will result in premium debts.
If you are only staying in Germany temporarily, you will remain insured in your country of origin. In Germany you can then be treated by means of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
All employees in Germany are compulsorily insured in the statutory accident insurance system. It is not necessary to register separately. You do not have to pay contributions towards this insurance; contributions are paid solely by the employer.
Accident insurance seeks to prevent work-related accidents and diseases, and to provide protection against the consequences when they do occur. The benefits include, in particular:
- Medical treatment and medical rehabilitation benefits and services,
- Benefits and services to promote participation in working life (occupational rehabilitation),
- Benefits and services to promote participation in the life of the community (social rehabilitation),
- A wage replacement benefit during the period when the individual is unable to work, and
- Pensions for people who suffer injuries and for surviving dependants.
In the event of an accident at work, your employer reports the accident; if it is suspected that you are suffering from an occupational disease, the report is made by your doctor. The accident insurance fund then automatically examines your entitlements. You do not need to submit an application or report anything.
If you are only staying in Germany temporarily, for example as a tourist, as a posted worker or as a seasonal worker mainly employed in the country of origin, you will remain covered by the health insurance in your country of origin. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is issued free of charge by your health insurance company in your country of origin. This allows you to be treated free of charge in Germany.
You can find more information about medical treatment in Germany with the EHIC or a replacement certificate here.
There are two different health insurance systems in Germany:
- the statutory health insurance system (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung), and
- private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung).
Employees are required to have statutory health insurance up to a certain income threshold. Above this threshold, you can choose whether to have statutory or private health insurance. You are required to choose one of these two options. It is not possible to do without health insurance entirely. If you are a member of the statutory health insurance system, you automatically also have long-term care insurance.
Tip: If you are self-employed, you are free to choose whether to have statutory or private health insurance. However, private health insurance schemes often vary in terms of the contributions you have to pay and the benefits they provide. Make sure you are fully informed and always compare several options. Migration advice centres can help you with this.
As a member of the statutory health insurance system, you will receive a health insurance card. You must produce your health insurance card at every doctor’s appointment. The costs of medical treatment are usually charged directly to your health insurance fund. You do not have to pay anything.
Please note: Sometimes your doctor may recommend treatments which are not covered by your insurance. You can decide whether to pay additional costs in order to receive the treatment.
If your spouse lives in Germany and does not work, you can co-insure him or her in the statutory health insurance system as a family member. There are no additional costs for this. The same applies with regard to your children (family insurance – Familienversicherung).
If you are insured in your country of origin and are only staying in Germany temporarily, you can receive medical treatment in Germany if this becomes necessary during your stay, i.e. if the treatment cannot wait until you return home. This also includes benefits in kind related to chronic illnesses and pregnancy. You will have to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You should apply for the EHIC from your health insurance fund in your country of origin before you leave the country. It is issued free of charge. If you have not been issued an EHIC, for example because it would have taken too long to do so, you can also request a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
Please note: The EHIC is only recognised by doctors and hospitals affiliated with the public health system – it does not cover private healthcare
If you are travelling to Germany solely in order to undergo medical treatment, the costs will only be met by your health insurance abroad if you have obtained authorisation in advance. You should provide proof of authorisation using an form from your health insurance fund in your country of residence.
If you have come to Germany to look for work, you can register with the German health system. To register, you will need to bring an form with you from your health insurance fund in your country of origin and show it to the German insurance fund. You will remain a member of your old health insurance scheme, but will receive the full range of benefits in kind while you are in Germany. If you do not register, however – in other words, if you only have your EHIC – you will only receive necessary medical treatment during your time in Germany.