Getting on a comprehensive public or private insurance plan is not always easy. In fact, in certain cases it can seem near impossible. Freelancers from non-EU countries, for example, are generally not eligible for public health insurance; and if they have any pre-existing conditions, they may find private insurance prohibitively expensive—or be completely ineligible. Paying for comprehensive health insurance also generally doesn’t make sense for young, healthy people who may only be in Germany for the short term (a few months to a year).
In these cases, expat health insurance can be a solution.
What is expat health insurance?
Expat health insurance, also known as “incoming insurance” provides coverage for emergencies and acute health problems. Generally, it covers costs associated with accidents or unexpected injuries, including hospital stays and related visits to medical professionals.
You can sign up for an expat health insurance policy for a maximum of five years from your entry date into Germany. Therefore, expat health insurance is meant as a temporary solution for people who cannot immediately enter the public or private comprehensive health insurance systems. Because you cannot be on expat health insurance for more than five years, we will always recommend looking into your comprehensive insurance options first.
A major drawback of expat health insurance is that it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses. So while you’ll be reimbursed for costs associated for a broken bone or a sinus infection, treatment for pre-existing illness like diabetes or hypothyroidism will not be covered. If you get treatments for pre-existing conditions, then you will have to pay out of pocket.
Family & dependents
Your expat health insurance policy will not cover children or other dependents. Any additional family members will need to have their own policies.
Residence permit validity
The Feather expat health insurance plan is perfect for residence permit- and visa-seekers. You will be able to get your first residence permit with expat health insurance.
However, it should be noted that the residence permit office generally does not accept expat health insurance for residence permit renewals. You will need to have a comprehensive plan (e.g. become a member of a public Krankenkasse or join private health insurance) by the time you renew your residence permit. You can read more about that on our blog.
A note on our recommendations
We are a public-first company. We will almost always recommend that you find a way to join public health insurance if you have long-term plans to stay in Germany. We only recommend joining expat health insurance if entering the public system isn’t an option—and since expat health insurance is only a temporary solution, we also generally advise our customers to find a way into the public system before they renew their residence permits.
Ways to do so may include:
- Joining the Künstlersozialkasse (for freelancers in certain fields—check our blog for more information);
- Becoming a full-time employee of a German company.
- 4 Ways Expat Health Insurance Can Help You
- Why Doesn’t Expat Health Insurance Work for Visa Renewals?
- FAQ: Expat Health Insurance