A Guide to German Health Insurance for International Students
Being a student in Germany is inspiring and fulfilling but you have to take care of the practicalities, including arranging suitable health insurance, an essential part of being in a foreign country for a significant period of time. There are many other considerations, such as possibly needing to obtain a visa and applying and registering for your chosen university. There are, therefore, some essential facts to be aware of when it comes to health insurance for students in Germany.
The different kinds of German health insurance for students
German health insurance consists of national and private insurance. National insurance is mandatory and funding comes from public sources for all those eligible. Employees pay into the scheme according to the level of their earnings. Students are eligible for affordable levels of cover, although it’s important to be aware that students who enrol at German universities must often have both national and international health insurance cover in place.
Private health insurance is usually taken out by higher income earners with premiums assessed based on age and current health.
International health cover
Many foreign students have health insurance taken out in their own country. Whether this is valid in Germany depends on the clauses offering cover abroad, particularly in Germany. It helps if there’s a reciprocal social insurance agreement in place between the student’s country of origin and Germany but, in the event that none exists, German health insurance is necessary. Even when the foreign health insurance is valid in Germany, you still need to know what cover this gives you within Germany.
Auslandskrankenversicherung (foreign health insurance)
Students ineligible for national or private health insurance have this (Auslandskrankenversicherung) as an option. This insurance is available from German health insurance companies and, even though you may be able to take it out in your home country, there are specific advantages to purchasing it from German providers, who have a better knowledge of the various German rules and regulations surrounding health insurance and thereby leading to an accurate policy and carefully calculated premiums. Their paperwork will also make it easier for you to pass through the system when you’re first in Germany. You can, of course, compare the prices between German providers and those from your own country. Anyone studying in Germany for longer than one semester should consider taking out health insurance with a German provider, which would then enable you to leave the provider in your home country as paying double premiums can be a drain on students’ resources.
The most important factor to ensure is that your health cover is comprehensive as you don’t want to have to face unexpected charges. Some of the inclusive features to look for when choosing a health insurance cover are:
– Transportation by ambulance;
– Residential care;
– Medications and pharmaceutical products;
– Eye care;
– Rehabilitation therapy;
– Complementary treatments (e.g. physiotherapy);
– Transport to the nearest hospital;
– Antenatal and postnatal care.
International students should also look for the following to be included in their cover:
– Expenses for relatives to visit you in hospital
– In the event of a fatality, repatriation of the body.
You can research the different options online to choose the one you consider to be the most suitable. Arranging your cover online is a good idea and is often the least expensive solution.
Finally, you should check to see whether your Germany cover will protect you if you travel outside Germany while you’re a student. Most policies do include this but it’s always wise to double check and read the small print carefully.
When researching German health insurance for students, you should be methodical and thorough. You could make phone calls to insurance companies to get further clarification and your German university’s international student department will be able to help, as will the German Embassy of your native country.