Health insurance and care for expats in Germany

Healthcare is an important consideration, particularly when migrating to a foreign country. Germany has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The country’s health insurance schemes encompass both Germans and expats. Here is a glimpse of the healthcare situation for migrants in Germany.


Health insurance in Germany is compulsory for all residents, natives and foreigners. It is mandatory for foreigners traveling to Germany to have travel insurance which is valid in all Schengen member states. Expats must have travel insurance at the time of applying for a German visa. This should be converted to statutory or private health insurance after obtaining a residence or work permit. To be valid the health insurance should provide a minimum cover of EUR 30,000.


The two types of health insurance in Germany are statutory or public, and private. Statutory health insurance is provided by the government. German citizens and foreigners pay social contributions which include the cost of statutory health insurance. Spouses, partners, and children under 23 (25 if studying) of expats do not pay social contributions as long as they earn less than EUR 450 per month. Students less than 30 years of age enrolled in degree programs at German universities can choose to register for statutory health insurance. Students more than 30 years of age, PhD scholars, language preparatory course students, and guest scientists are not eligible for statutory health insurance. They can get private health insurance in Germany. Tourists and business travelers with short stays in Germany (typically less than a year) can also get private health insurance. Short term visitors from the EU, EEA or Switzerland can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Germany.


Statutory health insurance for international students costs about EUR 110 per month. It is available to all natives and foreigners whose annual income is EUR 60,750 or less. Those with annual incomes above this can buy private health insurance. Buying private insurance is optional. The statutory insurance covers all medical needs of expats while in Germany. This includes repatriation for medical reasons. Statutory health insurance also covers the basic costs of pregnancy and childbirth at public hospitals. Health insurance payments in Germany are shared between workers and employers.

Private health insurance in Germany is offered by insurers such as Allianz Care, AXA, and Cigna Global. Allianz Care offers plans that stat at EUR 92 per month. These cover everyday medical expenses, emergency treatments, dental, surgical, and outpatient fees. Maternity care costs EUR 36 per month more. Expats can get private health insurance quotes even before arriving in Germany.


Health insurance in Germany is truly comprehensive. It covers medical and dental treatments, medicines, hospital stays, and sick pay. Healthcare is provided by public and private hospitals. With statutory health insurance the German state healthcare infrastructure is accessible to foreigners. Germany has more than 2,000 hospitals. Half of these are state-run. Others are either privately run or operated by non-profit organizations. German hospitals in both public and private sectors are world class. The WHO reported in 2017 that among EU members Germany has the highest number of physicians, nurses, and hospital beds. The country’s per capita expenditure on healthcare is the second highest in the EU, exceeded only by Austria. Life expectancy in Germany is 80.7 years, marginally higher than the EU average of 80.6. German doctors and medical personnel are well-trained. The vast majority of them speak English.


In Germany all prescriptions given by doctors must be filed at pharmacies. A German pharmacy is called an ‘Apotheke’.  These are convenient, widely distributed, and easily recognized from their signage. Germany has a very strict drug dispensation policy. Certain medications such as antibiotics can only be bought with doctors’ prescriptions. German pharmacists are highly trained, and can give advice on correct use and dosage of drugs. Medicines in Germany are cheaper compared to the US, and even other EU states such as Spain and Switzerland. A consortium of drug manufacturers and insurers keeps the price of drugs in Germany affordable. Millions of migrant workers live and work in Germany. They send regular remittances to their families using mobile solutions like the Ria Money Transfer App. For them the comprehensive and caring German healthcare system is a great benefit. The country clearly prioritizes health for both natives and foreigners.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.