Anyone residing in Germany is legally required to have health insurance. But getting insured can be intimidating if you don’t know the system—and the specifics of your situation can make things even more confusing.
Broadly speaking, expats in Germany have two choices: comprehensive insurance through a state or private insurer or an expat insurance plan. So what’s the difference between these options? And which makes the most sense for your situation?
Comprehensive insurance is provided through both public insurance funds, or Krankenkassen, and private companies. There are some key differences between comprehensive public and private plans, but they generally cover all health problems, including medications, pre-existing conditions, and preventive care.
If you’re arriving in Germany with a full-time employment contract, then you’ll be required to enroll in a comprehensive plan. These can be quite pricey, but your employer will cover a significant percentage of your insurance costs, particularly if you enroll in a public Krankenkasse.
If you’re not employed full-time, then you’ll have to cover the full cost of your insurance plan. But you should still consider getting comprehensive coverage if:
- You’re from the EU and/or have had health coverage within an EU country in the last five years;
- You’re planning to stay in Germany long-term;
- You want to take advantage of preventive care options;
- You have a pre-existing condition that requires regular care; and/or
- You have dependents.
If you’re arriving in Germany without full-time employment and are relatively healthy, then you may also consider getting an expat insurance plan. This option is specifically designed to provide stop-gap coverage for new arrivals, and generally should not be considered a long-term option.
Expat insurance generally comes at a much lower cost than comprehensive plans, but also provides a much lower level of coverage. While most expat plans will have you covered in emergencies, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for medications, preventive care, and routine doctors’ visits.
It’s worth noting that if you’re a freelancer from outside the European Union, then you’ll probably need to use one of these plans to get your residency permit.
Still, an expat insurance plan may be right for you if:
- You’re from outside the EU;
- You want to save money;
- You’re not planning on staying in Germany long-term;
- You are relatively healthy and don’t have costly pre-existing conditions;
- You don’t have children or other dependents.
Looking for an affordable expat insurance plan to kick off your stay in Germany? Get insured in under two minutes with one of our plans, starting as low as €72 a month.