What German health insurance is best for international people?
Three images of a women attempting to do her German pension refund

What German health insurance is best for international people?

Whether you’re a German resident by birth or by choice, Germany’s health insurance system can be complicated to navigate. It’s a two-tier system, where statutory health insurance is funded by public health funds (Krankenkassen) and private health insurance is supported by its members and functions independently of the government.

Most importantly, everyone is insured as it’s a legal requirement. And here at Feather – where all insurance communications will take place in plain English – we can help you find the coverage best suited to you and your lifestyle. But before we do that, we always start with an essential question – “What health insurance criteria apply to you?”

What German health insurance should I get?

When assessing what type of health insurance is best for you, there are certain criteria that define your eligibility status. We’ve created intuitive tools to simplify the process:

To find out about expat health insurance, click here.

To find out about public health insurance, click here.

To find out about private health insurance, click here.

Two women smiling

Read on for a brief overview of the categories you may fall into:

Job-hunters and employed persons

Are you moving to Germany without a job and still considering your options? Then expat health insurance may be for you. It’s the designated short-term health insurance solution for newcomers as it’s instant, flexible, more affordable than longer-term coverage plans, and limited to a period of 5 years.

Or perhaps you have secured full-time employment already? If you’re moving to Germany with a full-time contract of employment, then you’re ineligible for expat health insurance and required to sign up for comprehensive health insurance immediately. This can be either public health insurance, or private health insurance. If you’re earning more than €66.600 per year, private health insurance might be a less expensive option with better coverage. We’ve summarized everything you need to know about these types of health insurance here.

Self-employed or freelance persons

For self-employed and freelancers, joining public health insurance can be difficult. If they earn more than €30.000 and don’t have any serious health conditions, private health insurance provides the best insurance coverage possible, and is often less expensive than public health insurance. If private health insurance is not an option, there are a few tricks to joining public health insurance. When coming from another EU country, providing an E104 document that proves they had public health insurance makes them eligible. Freelancers with an artistic job background can join the KSK, a public social insurance scheme for artists and publicists. Lastly, cooperative smart can help with joining the public system: It provides self-employed and freelancers with benefits similar to those enjoyed by salaried employees: public health insurance, unemployment insurance, pension contributions, and administrative support.

Students (under and over 30 years of age)

You won’t be able to register for university in Germany without health insurance, so there are a few things to consider.

If you have moved especially to Germany to study and you’re under 30 years of age, then you automatically qualify for public/statutory health insurance. The best news? The German government is cognisant of a student’s limited financial means, and so health insurance is available at the reduced price of €120 for the duration of your studies.

If you’re a university student over the age of 30, unfortunately you don’t qualify for public/statutory health insurance, and we recommend expat health insurance for you. Alternatively, you could choose to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with your existing health insurance coverage from your country of origin.

If you happen to be a PhD student, there are additional factors that need to be considered. Consult this comprehensive FAQs section or speak to one of our insurance experts today.

Working students

Students in Germany are permitted to work and keep their student insurance, as long as their education remains their main occupation. The responsibility will also remain with working students to cover their reduced health insurance contributions.

Students may work under the following conditions:

  • Mini-jobs | Earning up to €520, irrespective of how many hours worked.
  • Short-term | No more than 3 months or 70 working days.
  • Working student contract | No more than 20 hours per working week.

For more information on the conditions applied to working students, click here.


In Germany, internships are broken down into various categories, of which the below are the most common:

  1. Voluntary internship
  2. Mandatory internship
  3. Pre-studies internship
  4. Post-studies internship
  5. Paid internship
  6. Unpaid internship

Please note that some of these internships can be combined. The most important things to note are:

  • Mandatory internships* require student health insurance (public/statutory or private) as there are no social contributions required.
  • Non-mandatory paid internships adhere to the rules for working students (outlined above), which means student health insurance (public/statutory or private) is valid.
  • Paid internships, whether before or after university, are considered employment and mandatory and voluntary health insurance requirements apply.
  • If you are undertaking a mandatory internship as part of your studies and your university is based in the EU/EEA zone, it may be possible for you to use your existing health coverage plan. This is dependent on two conditions:
  1. Does your employer require you to be insured here?
  2. Will your existing provider consent to cover you during your time in Germany?

If this isn’t applicable to you, you may be eligible for student public/statutory health insurance, as long as you’re under 30 years of age.

What does public/statutory and private health insurance cover in Germany?

Whether you’re publicly or privately insured, or availing of an expat health insurance policy, it’s essential that you know what your entitlements are in advance of seeking medical care and assistance.

Germany’s health insurance is renowned as one of the best in the world but there are differences between coverage plans. Privately insured persons will enjoy faster appointment times and more comprehensive plans for more specialized patient care.

Please find some – but not all – of the services covered by public/statutory health insurance. A key thing to note is that you will always receive basic treatment as it’s a system based on solidarity:

  • Outpatient medical treatment (carried out via doctors’ appointments)
  • Inpatient treatment (hospital stays)
  • Dental care
  • Medication and medical aids
  • Pregnancy and childbirth (at a basic level)

You may, however, face longer waiting times or need to pay out-of-pocket for unexpected bills if you’re covered by expat or public/statutory health insurance. If this does happen, you may be able to claim some of this back as a reimbursement through your health insurance provider. The Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit) clearly outlines what you’re entitled to as per your chosen health insurance coverage.

Please consult our FAQs for the differences between public/statutory and private health insurance at a glance. You can also consult the Krankenkassen (public/statutory health insurance providers) for extensive information.

What health insurance is accepted in Germany?

There is flexibility about using existing insurance policies from other countries while living, working, and studying in Germany.

An EU national with a health insurance coverage plan can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for a certain amount of time, depending on their circumstances. EU nationals who are students under 30 can continue to use their EHIC while living in Germany, as they’re not deemed to have permanent residency here. It’s assumed they will eventually return to their country of residence – if this should change come the end of their studies, they must switch to German health insurance.

People from outside the EU/EEA can use their international insurance as long as it meets the requirements of their VISAs. For example, it’s not possible to use travel insurance to get a VISA or residence permit as it’s ineligible as a main form of health insurance when living in Germany.

Securing insurance with Feather

All about you, for you. Insurance is one of the most personal choices you can make and at Feather, we present plans with coverage that fit your lifestyle. We know that making your way through the necessary information can be daunting, so we’ve created tools to simplify this process:

We do the work

This intuitive tool will help you find your recommendation for a monthly price and provider today.

It’s free

Our partnerships with public health insurance-providers mean you can avail of our services without charge.

100% digital

The entire process is paper-free and conducted online. This means it’s simpler, quicker, and perfect for those new to Germany who may not have found their permanent base yet.


As expats, we’ve all been there so we know how daunting it can be to go through the insurance process in German. That’s why it’s carried out entirely in English.

Insurance involves more than health

At Feather, we take the holistic approach to insurance as we know it doesn’t begin and end with health coverage. Life happens and while you’re living it, we want to make sure you have total peace of mind. For that reason, we also provide additional Dental coverage, Personal Liability plans, Household Contents insurance, and more.

How can we help you today? To talk to someone now, simply send us a message or book a call with one of our insurance experts at a time that works best for you.

Still making up your mind? If so, you can read more from Feather on our blog or in our FAQ section.