Feather Blog > Our guide to expat health insurance

Our guide to expat health insurance

We are a public-first company and will almost always recommend that you find a way to join public health insurance if you plan on living in Germany for an extended period of time. We only recommend joining expat health insurance if entering the public system is not an option. Expat health insurance is a temporary solution as you cannot use expat insurance to apply for a visa renewal. 

With that being said, it might not be possible for you to get public or private health insurance at the moment. In fact, in some instances, it’s impossible to get on either plan, which means that expat health insurance might be your last option to get a visa. 

What makes someone ineligible for public and private health insurance? 

Our most common case is with freelancers with pre-existing conditions or who are over the age of 55 from non-EU countries.

What is expat health insurance?

Expat health insurance is also known as incoming insurance because it provides coverage for people who have newly arrived in Germany in case of an emergency or acute health problems. It generally covers costs associated with accidents or unexpected injuries, including inpatient hospital stays and related (doctor-ordered) visits to medical professionals. 

You can sign up for expat health insurance for a maximum of 5 years from the time you enter Germany. Therefore, unless you only plan to be in Germany for a short period (under 5 years), we highly recommend going on public or private insurance. If you currently cannot enter into either private or public insurance due to your circumstance, we recommend getting expat insurance until you are able to switch. 

Pre-existing conditions

Expat health insurance does not cover medical needs related to pre-existing conditions or chronic illness. So, while your insurance will reimburse you for costs associated with a broken bone or a sinus infection, it will not cover treatment for pre-existing illnesses like diabetes or hypothyroidism. If you get treatment for pre-existing conditions, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. 

Family & dependents

Expat health insurance does not cover children or other dependents. Additional family members will need to get their own plans. 

Residence permit

You can get a visa with expat health insurance, but you cannot renew your visa with expat health insurance. 

If you’ve decided to stay in Germany long-term, you’ll need to either join the public or private health insurance system. Otherwise, you will not be able to renew your residence permit.