How to get student health insurance in Germany

Health insurance is mandatory for all students in Germany. Here is what you need to know.

All students in Germany have to have health insurance. That means it is mandatory for you as an international student in Baden-Württemberg as well. When you study in Germany, you need to be covered by a German health insurance policy at all times. Certain foreign insurance policies are accepted, but we’ll get to that later.

Public or private? The right insurance for you

If you are under 30 years old and study in Baden-Württemberg in a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. program, you are eligible to sign up with a German public health insurance company.

Most health insurance companies have special student rates. The insurance covers your doctors’ visits, hospital costs, and costs for medication and prescriptions. Usually, you have to make a small co-payment but most of the costs are covered. The insurer issues an insurance card that you have to bring to every doctor’s visit.

If you are not sure whether a health-related expense is covered, call the insurance and confirm with them to avoid surprises. Many insurance companies have English-language hotlines as well.

If you are over 30 years old, you most likely have to sign up with a private health insurance as the public insurance is no longer required to accept you. The premiums are somewhat higher with a private insurance but they also offer more services.

Some universities offer student packages for students from abroad. They include housing and health insurance, among other services. This will save you a lot of hassle and provides all the necessary insurances, usually at good prices tailored to the international student’s needs.

What to do if you study at a Studienkolleg or take language courses?

If you are enrolling in a Studienkolleg or take preparatory language courses, German public or statutory health insurance, as public insurance is also known, is not available to you. You can, however, sign up with a private health insurer for the expected time of the course and then switch to a public health insurer once you start your regular studies.

Specialized insurance companies offer insurance for student enrolled in preparatory courses. The insurance is also accepted by the embassies for visa purposes. These companies also offer combinations of health and travel insurance for students. This could be useful if you plan to travel during your vacation time or spent the holidays in your home country.

When to sign up for health insurance

Getting health insurance is one of the first steps to take once you decided to study in Germany: You need to have proof of health insurance in Germany to apply for your student visa, to enroll at the university of your choice and to obtain a residence permit.

If you start the visa application process before you have been accepted by a university, check if specialized insurers offer policies to bridge the gap. Some may offer several insurance plans tailored to the specific needs or international students and researchers. Contact them to find out which one fits your needs. The international office at your chosen university often also has valuable information about insurance based on their experience.

Pitfalls to avoid

Don’t ever let the insurance coverage lapse while you are in Germany. If you can’t pay your premiums for whatever reason, contact the insurance company to work out a payment plan. If you have some time between your preparatory courses and the start of your studies and stay in Germany during that time, make sure you have coverage. Otherwise you risk losing your residence permit and you will be deregistered from your university courses, which effectively ends your studies in Germany.

Which international insurances are accepted?

If you are a student from an EU country, your insurance is valid in Germany. You can stay insured with your provider from your home country. The same holds true for countries from the European Economic Area. For your stay in Germany, you need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Ask your health insurance provider how to obtain an EHIC.

The German government has contracts with some other countries for medical emergency care insurance. A German insurance company needs to issue a certificate that your insurance from your home country is accepted in Germany. Check with your insurance provider in your home country how to obtain such a certificate and who to get it from.