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Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance, or gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, is state insurance that is provided by over 100 individual not-for-profit Krankenkassen, or public health funds. These include the funds we partner with: AOK, Barmer, DAK, and TK. Each of these funds is operated by contributions from both its members and the German government.

Public health insurance or gesetzliche Krankenversicherung is state insurance provided by more than 100 individual not-for-profit Krankenkassen or public health funds. Out of the many, we’ve partnered with TK, AOK, DAK, and Barmer. Our partners are operated by contributions from its members and the German government. 

Here, we have an overview of how these public insurances differ from each other: 

Each public insurance provider offers comprehensive coverage to all of their members. This includes an extensive range of preventative services, acute care, and full/ partial reimbursement for medications.

Signing up

It’s easier to sign up for public health insurance than it is for private, but there are still a few requirements that you should watch out for:

  • Under 55 years old
  • Employed at a German company or a student
  • Moving to Germany from another EU country where you were insured publicly

If a German company employs you, you can sign up with one of our public health insurance providers in a matter of minutes. If you’re a student, it will take a bit longer since we’ll need to gather some additional information for your application. 

Still, even if we need to ask you for some additional documents, it will only take a matter of days to get you signed up for insurance, so there is no need to worry.

How are public insurance costs calculated?

There is a standard fee for students up until a certain number of semesters when the contribution amount increases. If you’re over a certain age and a student, you’ll need to speak with us about other insurance options, as you may no longer be eligible for public health insurance.

For people who are not students, public health insurance providers operate on a salary-based system for contributions. This means that the more you earn, the more you’ll pay per month. Your employer will also pay 50% of these fees. If you’re a healthy, single high-earner, it can actually be less expensive to switch to private insurance for this very reason. 

In 2021, the official health insurance contribution is set at 14.6% of total income (though any public insurance provider will have additional contributions, averaging 1.1% of total income). Monthly payments top out at a salary of €58,050 annually (€4,837.50/month). This means that you won’t end up paying more than €700/month in total in health insurance costs (that’s €350/month if your employer is paying half).

If you get a new job and your salary changes, your monthly contribution will be automatically adjusted to your new income. If your employment status changes (e.g., if you quit working full-time and start freelancing), you may need to take extra steps to ensure that you’re paying the correct amount. Freelancers generally pay estimated taxes, and then the amount is adjusted to reflect their actual earnings when they file their yearly tax returns.

Pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing conditions will never exclude you from coverage in the public system. Your insurance will cover any pre-existing conditions as long as you are eligible to join a Krankenkasse or public health insurance provider.

Family coverage

The public insurance system is generally the cheapest way to insure multiple dependents. If you have children, they will be covered at no additional cost by your provider. As long as your children live in Germany and are not earning more than €450/month, they can be covered until the age of 23. If they are students, then they can be insured under your policy until the age of 25. Your public insurance provider will also cover non-working spouses.

For additional information on insuring dependents, check our blog.

Can I switch to private health insurance?

If a German company employs you, you may choose to switch to a private insurance plan as long as you’re earning more than €64,350 a year (as of 2021). If you are a freelancer, you can choose to switch to private insurance even if you earn less than that amount. But you will likely need to make at least €40,000 a year for private insurers to accept you. 

Read more on our private insurance page: