How to Sign Up for Student Health Insurance (and What Not to Do!)
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How to Sign Up for Student Health Insurance (and What Not to Do!)


When you sign up for health insurance in Germany for the first time, there are many things to take into account. You should carefully consider your options to avoid getting stuck with insufficient coverage—or being forced to backpay down the line.

Before we get into the details on student health insurance, let’s take one of our most common scenarios. Roberto moved to Munich from the U.S. in the summer of 2018. Before moving, Roberto enrolled at a University in Munich for a biochemistry program that would begin in the fall. Shortly after arriving in Germany, Roberto visited an insurance agent who sold him an expat insurance plan for €68/month. The agent assured Roberto that this coverage would be inexpensive and sufficient enough for his time in university. Not thinking twice about it, Roberto signed up for the expat insurance plan.

Too late to switch?

Fast forward several months and Roberto has just learned that his classmate is paying €90/a month for full public health insurance. Knowing that expat health insurance doesn’t provide the same level of coverage that public insurance does, decides to sign up with TK. But unfortunately, he’s five months too late.

The agent explains to him that in order to get the student health insurance offer, Roberto needed to sign up for TK on the day that his studies began. In order to sign up now he must backpay all of his would-be TK payments starting from the first day of his university enrollment. In other words, Roberto now needs to pay over €450 for the five months of coverage that he missed!

At first, Roberto is dismayed—but then he becomes angry at the first insurance agent who did not tell him this. But eventually, he bites the bullet and ultimately pays the retroactive charges.

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Avoid unnecessary payments

Unfortunately, many students fall into similar traps when they first come to Germany.  But they can be avoided. Here are a few tips:

  • If you are planning to be enrolled in a German university, always be sure to sign up for public health insurance before your studies begin.
  • Don’t see a broker for insurance options if you are student! There is no reason to ever go with private insurance as a university student. You should always take advantage of the incredibly low public health insurance rates.
  • In some cases, like Roberto’s, you’re better off back paying your expenses than choosing full private insurance. Why? While private might seem enticing, it can get vastly more expensive than public health insurance over time.
  • If you’re a student with private or incoming insurance, try your best to switch to private within six months of your first date of enrollment. After six months, switching (even with backpaying) might not be possible.
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