Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 20 August 2021

Student Health Insurance in Germany - A Complete Guide


When international students come to study in Germany it’s the law for them to have some form of German student health insurance - it’s also something that you’ll be asked to prove during your student visa application. 

If you can’t show valid health insurance, you may be denied entry to the country.

There are various types of German health insurance that international students can apply for, so in this guide, we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about student health insurance  Germany. 

We’ll be covering topics like how to pick the best policy for you, how much does health insurance in Germany cost for students, and what does German health insurance cover.

Table of Contents: 

How does the German healthcare system work?

The German healthcare system is one of the best in Europe, and all residents are required to have some sort of health insurance policy. 

Even if you’re an international living or working in Germany, you’re still eligible to apply for German healthcare. Once you become a resident, you have to register with either a public or private healthcare provider.

What is public German health insurance?

Public health insurance known as the Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV) is provided by the German state and covers around 90% of residents, this includes both EU and non-EU nationals working in Germany.

German public health insurance includes care in hospitals and care from doctors. Some specialist care, for example, eye or dental care may be limited, or not included at all, in public health insurance policies.

German public health insurance also covers:

  • People in paid employment or vocational training who earn less than €60,750 per year

  • Spouses, civil partners, and children (up to age 23, or 25 if studying) of someone covered by public health insurance

  • Pensioners and people who receive unemployment benefits

What is private health insurance in Germany?

Private health insurance is the policy offered by private health organisations, rather than the German state. 1 in 10 German residents have private health insurance policies that come from around 40 private medical insurance companies.

You normally sign up for private health insurance in terms of 18 months, and will usually have to give a 2-month notice period if you want to end your policy before this time.

Some of the main private health insurance companies in Germany include:

Who’s eligible for private health insurance in Germany?

Eligibility for private healthcare is dependent on your employment status and salary. If you earn less than €66,600 a year, you’re recommended to stay on a public healthcare insurance policy.

You can apply for private healthcare if you fall into one of the groups below:

  • Residents with salaries higher than €66,600 a month

  • Civil servants

  • Self-employed

  • Mature students (International students older than 30 years old)

  • Students in preparatory and language courses

  • Guest scientists, post-graduate students, scholarship holders (without a contract of employment)

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What is the difference between private and public health insurance in Germany?

The main difference between public and private health insurance in Germany is that public health insurance is based on your income, whereas private insurance is based on your risk profile - things like your age and previous medical history.

Also, with private health insurance, you’ll be asked to pay your doctor’s fees up front and get reimbursed later so there will be times when you’re left out of pocket - which won’t happen if you’re on public health insurance. 

Private health insurance will usually cover more extensive and specialised services, and you’ll have shorter waiting times for treatments, however it can cost more monthly and will not cover children and partners for free.

How much does health insurance cost in Germany?

For public health insurance in Germany, you get charged a healthcare contribution based on your income which comes out of your salary automatically and is currently around 14.6%. You’ll have to pay half of the 14.6%, and then your employer will pay the remainder.

The amount charged is capped at wages of €4,987,50 a month, which means the maximum amount that you could pay monthly for public health insurance in Germany is €807,98.

You may also have to pay an additional ‘contribution rate’ which is set by state German health insurers, which changes every year.

Do international students need health insurance in Germany?

Yes, all students have to have healthcare insurance in Germany. Whether you get it privately or publicly, it doesn’t matter. Without proof of insurance, you may not be granted a German student visa.

Students over 30, can only go with private insurance throughout the whole period of their studies.

Health insurance for international students in Germany

If you’re a student at a German university under the age of 30, you must have public health insurance. Without a certificate proving your insurance, you won’t be able to register at university.

If you’re under 30 but want to apply for private health insurance, you will have to request a certificate of exemption from public health insurance within the first 3 months of your studies. 

If you’re over the age of 30 you only have the possibility of getting private health insurance.

You can also use this tool to estimate how much you can expect to pay for health insurance in Germany and find which is the cheapest health insurance in Germany for students.

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Is my health insurance policy valid in Germany? 

If you’re from one of the countries below, your home public health insurance policy is valid in Germany:

  • Member states of the European Union (with your European Health Insurance Card)

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina

  • Iceland

  • Liechtenstein

  • Morocco

  • Macedonia

  • Montenegro

  • Norway

  • Switzerland

  • Serbia

  • Tunisia

  • Turkey

You should always check the details with your health insurance provider to make sure that it will be valid in Germany - just to make sure.

What does student health insurance in Germany cover?

Student health insurance Germany will cover:

  • In-patient hospital care

  • Out-patient care (e.g. visiting the doctor)

  • Medical check-ups

  • Medication

  • Basic dental care

  • Treatment for pregnancy

  • Emergency services

How to get proof of student health insurance in Germany?

To get proof of your German health insurance, you should contact the company you started your plan with. They will be able to provide a certificate that includes details of your insurance plan, how much it covers, and how long the plan lasts.

If you’re on private health insurance or using health insurance from your home country, you may also need to get proof of being exempt from public health insurance in Germany. You can do this by contacting the public health insurance provider in your area.

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Is healthcare in Germany free for international students?

No, healthcare in Germany is not free for international students. The only exception is if your home health insurance plan is valid in Germany.

How much is public health insurance for international students in Germany?

On average, students will have to pay around €110 a month for health insurance. Some of the most common providers of health insurance charge the following:

  • TK – Techniker Krankenkasse 117,50 € for students younger than 23 or with child / 120,34 for students older than 23 and without child

  • AOK Nordost 123,19 € / 126,03 €

  • AOK Rheinland/ Hamburg 122, 37 € / 125, 21 €

  • Barmer 119,94 € / 122,78 €

  • KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse 119, 94 € / 122,78 €

Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is the most popular as it’s one of the cheapest health insurance in Germany for students. TK also has 24/7 support available in English, so it’s perfect for international students who don’t speak German.

How much is private health insurance for international students in Germany?

Private German health insurance for students can start at around €33 for a basic plan, but most insurance providers will have various plans at different prices. The more you pay monthly, the more cover you will get.

Some popular private health insurance providers:

How to apply for health insurance as an international student in Germany? 

International students will have to apply for German health insurance and show proof of their policy before arriving in Germany. 

Applying for student health insurance in Germany is very simple and can usually be done online. You can follow these steps to start your German health insurance plan:

  • Decide whether you will choose public or private healthcare

  • Choose a company and plan that you want to apply for (you can use this tool to help)

  • Go to your chosen company’s website and find the online application (or their contact details if it’s not possible to apply online)

  • Complete online application form 

  • You will receive an email with your Student Health Insurance Certificate and a request to submit further documents for your application

  • Once complete you will have your insurance and can send proof of this as part of your visa application

Health insurance for preparatory courses in Germany

If you have to undertake a preparatory course before attending a German university, like our Prep4University programme, you’ll need a valid health insurance policy for the duration of your course.

Students that are enrolled in preparatory courses are not eligible for public healthcare insurance in Germany, so you will have to apply for a private plan.

After you finish your preparatory course and get accepted at a German university, you’ll then be allowed to apply for a public healthcare plan. 

Health insurance for exchange students in Germany

At CBS we accept a lot of exchange students onto our undergraduate and postgraduate courses every year. 

If you’re coming to study in Germany as part of an exchange programme, like Erasmus, you will need to have health insurance.

Students from EU countries can use their EHIC card as health cover for the duration of their exchange. 

If you’re from a country that doesn’t have an EHIC card, you are eligible to apply for public health insurance in Germany at the discount student rate.

Health insurance for language course students in Germany

If you’re coming to Germany to study a language course, you will not be eligible to apply for public health insurance, so you will need to apply for a private health insurance plan. 

Once you’ve completed your language course, if you decide to attend a German university or get a job in Germany, you will then be eligible to apply for public health insurance.

If you’re taking a short language course, possibly just a semester-long, and you’re from an EU country you can use your EHIC card instead of applying for German health insurance.

If you come to study with us at CBS, we also integrate German language classes into our study programmes to continue your learning. German as a foreign language is offered as an obligatory course for Non-native German speakers and is integrated into every semester, to help you master a new language while pursuing a degree programme.

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Check out some tips to help you learn German faster

Useful German healthcare words

Here are some useful healthcare words you can use in Germany:

  • Apotheke = Pharmacy

  • Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung = Statutory public health insurance

  • Krank = Sick

  • Krankenkassen = Non-profit associations that administer public healthcare insurance, like Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)

  • Krankenschwester = Nurse

  • Krankenversichertenkarte = Health insurance card

  • Krankenwagen = Ambulance

  • Öffentliche Krankenhäuser = Public hospital

  • Pflegepflichtversicherung = Nursing care insurance

  • Private Krankenversicherung = Private health insurance

  • Private Krankenhäuser = Private hospital

  • Rezept = Prescription

  • Versicherung = Insurance

Useful German healthcare phrases

These are some useful phrases that you may need to use while in Germany:

  • Ich bin krank = I am sick/ill

  • Ich fühle mich unwohl = I feel unwell

  • Ich fühle mich echt mies = I'm feeling really unwell

  • Ich brauche einen Krankenwagen = I need an ambulance

  • Mir ist schwindelig = I feel dizzy

  • Ich habe Fieber = I have a fever

Emergency numbers in Germany

If you find yourself in need of emergency care while in Germany, these are the main emergency service numbers that you may need.

You can make a call to any of these numbers at any time, free of charge.

  • Ambulance/Fire Brigade - 112

  • Police - 110

  • On-call medical service - 116117


After reading this article, you should have everything you need to know about student health insurance in Germany - we hope that you know exactly what policy you need to apply for and how much you can expect to pay.

Check out all the reasons that make Germany the perfect place to study

If you need more information or have questions about studying in Germany and requirements, you can schedule an appointment with one of our student advisors or attend one of our virtual info sessions.

Learn more about the requirements to study in Germany and how to apply

Here are 22 tips for living in Germany as an international student

CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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