Health and Preventive Care

Health Insurance for Temporary Stay in Germany

If you are only temporarily staying in Germany, for example, as a tourist, as a posted worker, or as a seasonal worker primarily employed in your home country, you remain covered by health insurance in your home country. For treatment by a doctor or in a hospital, you need your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and proof of identity (ID card or passport). The EHIC is issued free of charge by your health insurance company in your home country.

You can receive medical treatment in Germany with the EHIC or PEB if it becomes necessary during your stay, i.e., if it cannot wait until your return to your home country. Covered services include medical treatment, hospital treatment, and provision of medications. The treatment costs will be reimbursed by your health insurance company in your home country. However, repatriation to your home country is not covered by the EHIC/PEB!

Note: The leaflet "Using the EHIC in Germany" contains the most important information. For more information on access to the health system for EU citizens, EEA nationals, and Swiss nationals, refer to the brochure with the same title. The EHIC/PEB is only recognized by doctors and hospitals affiliated with the statutory health insurance system (e.g., doctors' practices marked "Kassenarzt" or "alle Kassen").

Health Insurance for Long-Term Stay in Germany

If you plan to stay in Germany for an extended period (e.g., as a retiree or cross-border commuter), you should ensure your entitlement to benefits through the S1 form. It is issued by your health insurance company in your home country. Beyond medically necessary treatments, planned treatments and routine examinations are also possible.

If you come to Germany specifically for medical treatment – that is, to undergo planned treatment – you will need a certificate of entitlement issued by your health insurance company in your home country ("Portable Document S2").


Health Insurance for Residence in Germany

If you move your residence and thus your habitual residence to Germany, you must generally ensure health insurance coverage here. This also applies to your family members if they live here. General health insurance is compulsory in Germany! Health insurance is possible through two different systems:

  • statutory health insurance (GKV), and
  • private health insurance (PKV).

As a member of the GKV, you are automatically also insured for long-term care. The benefits that care-dependent individuals receive from insurance depend on the duration of dependency, the degree of care, and the type of care.

Note: If you receive a pension from an EU Member State – your home country – but move your residence to Germany, you remain insured in your home country!

If you are employed in a marginal employment position (a "mini job"), earning no more than an average of €520 per month, and are not primarily self-employed, you are not compulsory insured as an employee. However, you must still ensure health insurance coverage! For job seekers, it depends: As long as your main place of residence is still in your home country, meaning you have not yet moved your residence to Germany, you remain covered by health insurance in your home country.

If you are a job seeker and have already moved your residence to Germany, you must take out health insurance here. There is an automatic obligation to be insured ("emergency insurance obligation" (Auffangversicherungspflicht) according to § 5 paragraph 1 No. 13 SGB V)!

You can be legally insured with a health insurance company of your choice. Those who were privately insured in their home country must also find private health insurance in Germany.

Note: For non-employed individuals, there is the option to voluntarily join statutory health insurance in Germany after the expiration of health insurance coverage in the home country (§ 9 SGB V). Within three months, voluntary insurance must be reported in writing to a health insurance company. There is no gap in insurance coverage, as health insurance in Germany immediately follows. Have the receipt of your written notice confirmed by the health insurance company!

Even if you are self-employed or have been self-employed, you must be insured in Germany. Usually, you must take out private health insurance.

In the event of unemployment – after previous employment in Germany – you remain automatically compulsory insured. Usually, health insurance with the previous health insurance company remains in place. However, the health insurance company must be informed about the unemployment.

Even if you receive social assistance under SGB XII, you usually remain insured with the GKV. The contributions to the GKV are covered by the social welfare provider (municipal social welfare office) according to § 32 paragraph 1 SGB XII.

If you are in need of assistance but have no insurance coverage because your health insurance in the home country no longer exists or you could not take out health insurance in Germany, health care under SGB XII may be considered depending on your residence status (§ 23 SGB XII).

If you have difficulty becoming a member of health insurance, seek advice from a counseling center. Make sure you are insured under all circumstances! Avoid at all costs that you are not insured! This will always lead to problems for you.

Note: Among the counseling centers are so-called clearinghouses (Clearingstellen), which can assess whether and to what extent you are entitled to benefits in the German health care system. Clearinghouses can also help you take out health insurance.

Further information for EU citizens and their family members on access to the health care system can be found in the brochure "Access to the Health Care System for Union Citizens, EEA Nationals, and Swiss Nationals" of the Federal Working Group of the Free Welfare Associations and the EU Equality Office.

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