It is mandatory to have health insurance (Krankenversicherung) in Germany, either within the public system or with a private insurance company. When not covered by your home insurance, you are obliged to buy insurance in Germany. The major difference between the two systems is that anybody insured by the public health system is not billed for a visit to the doctor, hospital, or routine dental treatment but pays a consultation fee of € 10 per quarterly period. For certain medical treatments (massages, physiotherapy, some dental treatments, and for medication) you are obliged to pay 10% or a part of the costs. Within the private insurance system, you will have to pay up front for all medical services and request reimbursement (Rückerstattung) from your insurance provider.
If you do not have health insurance coverage, you can neither have your visa converted into a residence permit.
Insurance benefits generally exclude illnesses which started prior to the local insurance coverage in Germany (pre-insurance illnesses). Especially with private health insurance companies, pregnancy commencing during a research visit is normally not covered. To have these expenses reimbursed, the relevant benefits must be laid down in advance in a supplementary contract. Furthermore, health insurance companies will not necessarily refund the cost for medical check-ups.
Germany has a statutory health insurance system that is administered by varous insurance companies, like Techniker Krankenkasse, AOK, and many more. The rates depend on various factors – amount earned, working status, etc. All basic medical treatments are covered. 95% of the benefits are the same for all public health insurers; the remaining 5% are additional individual benefits such as personal availability (Service-Centers), medical check-up, etc. Your insurance company will issue you a health insurance card, which you have to take with you whenever you see a doctor.
Doctoral candidates have to buy health insurance as voluntary members. The rate for statutory (public) health insurance is 14.3% of the monthly income (eg.scholarship). Additionally, another 2.2% must be paid for Compulsory Long Term Care Insurance (gesetzliche Pflegeversicherung).
For voluntary members, the calculation of the monthly rate is based on a minimum income of € 851,67 per month. This means that even if your income should fall below that, your monthly contribution rate would at least amount to € 140.53 (equivalent to 14.3% health insurance plus 2.2% care insurance).
It might be useful to know that in addition to health coverage, the health insurances administer the collection of social security payments (retirement, unemployment, invalid care, etc.).
Usually, private health insurance offers a wider range of benefits than the statutory (public) health insurance. Depending on the rate chosen, they may offer the option such as private hospitals, alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal treatments, eye glasses and contact lenses.
The rate is based on your risk profile, not on your income. Older people or women generally pay higher rates than young men. Both the premium charged and the benefits provided by private health insurance companies may vary considerably, so that what initially appears to be the cheaper option is not always the best choice.
In addition to the health insurance, which is mandatory, we recommend a private liability insurance. In case you damage something which you do not own (e.g. you cause an accident as a pedestrian or riding a bike), you will normally be obliged to bear the damage. Depending on the incident, this may easily amount to some thousand Euros. The liability insurance will cover all kinds of damages – provided that they were not caused on purpose. All major insurance companies offer this insurance. The fee ranges between € 40 and € 90 a year, depending on the coverage type and the insurance company.
Some private insurance companies like DSW Victoria, EduCare24 , Hanse Merkur (Hans Weissenbach) and Mawista offer special insurance packages for international doctoral candidates combining health insurance together with travel and liability insurance.
The Researcher's Mobility Portal Germany(Euraxess) has more information on issurances here.