Private Health Insurance Germany

PRIVATE HEALTH Insurance Germany for Foreigners

Private Health Insurance Germany  

In Germany, health insurance is required by law. In other words, everyone living in Germany must have some form of German health insurance. You can choose between private health insurance (if you quality for it*) or public health insurance. This guide explains the German healthcare system and covers private health insurance in Germany for expats in detail.

Table of Contents:

Brief overview of public health insurance vs. private health insurance in Germany (with Ottonova as the example because it is especially for expats!):

german liability insurance
  • All outpatient doctors
  • All specialists without referral
  • Reimbursement all medications
  • Reimbursement visual aids
  • Accommodation
  • Dental treatment
  • Worldwide coverage
  • Fully digital
  • Quick appointments
  • Exemplary monthly rate (30 year old person)

  • multi-bed room
  • 10-30%
  • 430€

private health insurance germany ottonova
  • up to 300 € every 2 years
  • 1 bed room
  • 90-100%
  • 165€

How the German Healthcare System Works

Private & Public Health Insurance

The German healthcare system is comprised of private health insurance and public (statutory/state) health insurance. Private health insurance and public health insurance have many differences. For example, public health insurance covers all your dependents (e.g. spouse/children) for no additional costs. To the contrary, for private health insurance, you have to pay for each individual you want to include on your policy. However, private health insurance usually offers a wider range of healthcare services.


One of the most important things to do when you move to Germany is get German health insurance! It is compulsory to have German health insurance if you live in Germany. In some cases, however, people can choose between getting private health insurance or public health insurance. In addition, non-EU citizens usually have to provide documents of valid German health insurance in order to get a visa/residency permit in Germany. Therefore, you should check that your health insurance company fulfills the requirements for a German visa/residency permit.

It should also be noted that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your home country is not sufficient. You still need to be insured under a German health insurance company. German residents cannot substitute the European Health Insurance Card for German health insurance. The EHIC is for temporary visitors in Germany, not permanent residents.

Leading Healthcare System

Germany’s healthcare system is one of the leading healthcare systems in Europe. Whether you go to a doctor’s office in a large city like Berlin or a small town like Bamberg, you will receive good healthcare. This article is the perfect guide for information on health insurance in Germany!

*German private health insurance can also be abbreviate to PKV. Public health insurance is also written as GKV or SHI (Statutory Health Insurance).

How Private Health Insurance in Germany Works

private health insurance in germany

How Payments Work

When it comes to paying for medical care, private health insurance in Germany is unlike public health insurance. Here’s how it works for private health insurance: First, you visit the doctor. Then the doctor/hospital sends you an invoice for the visit and treatments. Afterwards, you send the invoice to your health insurance company. Your insurance company looks over the invoice, and sends you a reimbursement. Lastly, you use this reimbursement to pay the doctor/hospital bill.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

In Germany, around 10% of people are insured with a private health insurance company. The other 90% have public health insurance. Not everyone is eligible for private health insurance. This contributes to why only 10% of people have private health insurance. But – if you’re eligible for private health insurance, then you could save a lot of money. Therefore, it’s worth taking a look at your options.

Some advantages of private health insurance in Germany include shorter wait times for doctor’s appointments, more comprehensive coverage, and an easier time getting an appointment with a specialist. As for disadvantages, you have to pay separate premiums for each dependent you add to your policy. So, for example, if you have 3 children and a partner then you need to pay a premium for each of them. To the contrary, public health insurance covers all of your dependents and yourself under one premium.

What’s Covered

private health insurance in Germany

Covers a wide range of medical services

Private health insurance in Germany covers a wider range of medical services than public health insurance in Germany. For instance, private health insurance companies covers more dental care than public health insurance. Furthermore, people with German private health insurance have more access to doctors that speak English, private rooms in hospitals, private practice doctors, and specialty treatments.

Moreover, you can customize your private health insurance policy. In general, you can get coverage for outpatient medical treatments, emergency ambulance transportation, specialty treatments, doctor’s fees, medicine and medical aids.

Supplementary Insurance

Not everyone living in Germany qualifies for private health insurance. If this is you – don’t worry! If you want some of the coverage that private health insurance offers, there is a solution. You can supplement your public health insurance with private health insurance in Germany. For instance, if you want better coverage for dental care then you can buy supplementary dental insurance from a private health insurance provider. (More about dental insurance in the FAQ.*)

How Coverage for Dependents Works

When it comes to coverage for dependents, public health insurance and private health insurance are completely different. For public health insurance, all non-working dependents can be included on your policy for no additional cost. To the contrary, for private health insurance you have to pay for each dependent you want on your plan. For instance, let’s say you need to insure 3 dependents (e.g. 2 children and your spouse) and yourself. In this case, you would need to pay 4 separate premiums.

Who Can Apply

private health insurance in Germany

You can get private health insurance if you fall into any of these categories:

  • Self employed/Freelancers
  • Civil servants (e.g. professors)
  • Earn a yearly income above 60,750€ (as of 2019)
  • Students who renounce their public health insurance
  • You work part-time and don’t earn more than 450€ per month. 

Cost of Private Health Insurance in Germany

private health insurance in Germany

Your Age & Health

Your age impacts how much you pay for private health insurance. Therefore, the older you are, the more expensive your plan could be. This means that, in theory, a 55-year-old with private health insurance would pay more than a 25-year-old. It’s important to note, however, that pre-existing health conditions also impact the cost. For example, if you have asthma then the price of your premium would be higher than someone with no pre-existing health conditions. As a general rule of thumb, private health insurance premiums are cheaper the younger and healthier you are.


How many dependents you include on your plan impacts how much it costs. For private health insurance, you have to pay for each dependent you need to insure. As a result, private health insurance will be get more expensive as you add dependents to your plan. For example, let’s say you need to insure your 2 children, spouse and yourself. Well, in this case, you would pay 4 separate premiums. On the other hand, public health insurance policies include dependents for no additional cost. For really big families, public health insurance is sometimes the cheaper option.


Oftentimes, you can modify the cost of your private health insurance premium by increasing or decreasing your deductible (sometimes called an excess). A deductible is how much you pay for your medical bills before your insurance kicks in. For instance, let’s say you have a €1,500 medical bill, and your deductible is €500. Well, in this case, you would pay €500 and your insurance would pay the other €1,000. If you increase your deductible then you can decrease your monthly premium.

If you’re young, have a high salary, don’t have pre-existing health conditions and don’t have a lot of dependents then private health insurance will almost always be cheaper than public health insurance.

Many people living in Germany with big incomes choose private health insurance. Part of this is because the cost of public health insurance is derived from your income. In other words, you pay more for public health insurance as your salary increases. Therefore, private health insurance can be the cheaper option for a lot of people in Germany.

It’s important to note that expats can get private health insurance for cheaper rates with the health insurance provider Ottonova. However, you should know that it is extremely challenging to switch from private health insurance to public health insurance. Therefore, make sure you weigh all your options.

Simply put, the cost of private health insurance depends on your age, health and number of dependents. As a result, how much you pay for private health insurance normally increases as you get older or if you add dependents to your plan.

Best Private Health Insurance in Germany for Expats


The best provider for German private health insurance for expats is Ottonova. Ottonova is nationally recognized as a great option for expats because most of their services are catered towards expats/non-German speakers. You can get health insurance with Ottonova online in minutes!

Services For Expats

Out of all the private health insurance companies in Germany, Ottonova is one of the best for expats. There are three main reasons for this. First, Ottonova has cheaper prices for expats. This is the “Special Expat Tariff” and it just means that expats get a better price! Secondly, Ottonova offers all of its services in English! It has an app in English, which makes it really easy to submit invoices for reimbursements. Ottonova also has English customer support. Lastly, Ottonova fulfills all the health insurance requirements to get a visa/residency permit in Germany!

What’s Covered

Ottonova health insurance also covers a wide range of medical services. It covers medication costs, prenatal courses, glasses and contact lenses, speciality treatments, outpatient medical treatment and more!

Click here to learn more about Ottonova and get insurance really easily online!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the benefits of Ottonova health insurance in Germany?

– A website in English
– A discounted private health insurance package for expats
– No paperwork involved. You can sign up online and use their app. 
– 24/7 English support. 
– Fulfills all legal requirements for getting your visa. 
– Reimburse you for all medications doctors or dentists prescribe you. For example, you can be reimbursed for medications and dressing like compression braces, bandages, casts and other related materials. Ottonova also offers reimbursements for contraceptives until age 20. 
– Reimbursements for visual aids for up to 300€ every 2 years. 
– Worldwide coverage

How does dental insurance work?

Most private health insurance companies in Germany, like Ottonova, have policies that include coverage for dental work. However, if you have public health insurance then you can buy supplemental dental insurance from a private health insurance company. This article “Dental Insurance in Germany: Nr.1 Guide for Foreigners,” has a lot of great and helpful information!

Can I have both public and private health insurance?

If you have public health insurance but would prefer to have some of the benefits of private health insurance in Germany then there is a third option. You can top off your public health insurance with add-ons from private health insurance companies. In other words, you can purchase extra coverage from certain healthcare providers. For example, you can add more coverage for better dental care.

What are the benefits of having private health insurance?

For people with very high incomes, private health insurance can be less expensive than public health insurance since the cost of public insurance is based on your income.
– Access to private practice doctors
– Sometimes offers more comprehensive coverage for procedures
– Better access to semi-private and private rooms in hospitals
– Access to doctors who speak your own language
– Option to lower the monthly payment if you have a deductible (sometimes referred to as an excess)

When do I need German health insurance?

By law, you always need to have German health insurance if you’re living in Germany. You should prepare even before you arrive to Germany if you’re not from the European Union (EU). One reason for this is because non-EU citizens must provide proof of German health insurance when they applying for a German residency permit/ visa. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress by starting this process ahead of time.

It’s a little different if you are from a country within the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. . You can start the process of getting German health insurance after you arrive to Germany. For a limited time, you can use your EHIC card. However, the EHIC card cannot be used as a substitute for German health insurance. It’s for temporary travelers in Germany, not longterm residents. Therefore, you still need to get German health insurance. 

A rule that applies to both non-EU expats and EU expats: You must apply for German health insurance within 3 months from when you become a resident of Germany.

What is the best health insurance company for students?

If you’re a student in Germany then you need to have German health insurance. The public health insurance company, TK (or Techniker Krankenkasse), is a great option. As for private health insurance, Ottonova is one of the best providers.

TK offers medical coverage abroad and has an online application, in English, for students! It’s really easy to get covered through TK. Ottonova is also really easy. You can sign up online. You can even sign up before you get to Germany. One less thing you’ll have to worry about! Most importantly, TK and Ottonova meet the visa requirements in Germany.

Is German healthcare free?

No. Health care in Germany is not free. You have to pay for either public health insurance or private health insurance. If you have public health insurance, the price is based off your income. It is 14.6% of your income (as of 2020). This amount is split equally between you and your employer. Therefore, your employer pays 7.3% and you pay 7.3%. The cost of private health insurance is mostly based off your age and health. To find out more about public health insurance, check out our article “PUBLIC HEALTH Insurance Germany for Foreigners – #1 English Guide.”

More info for expats…

Personal liability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance an expat should get in Germany. You can learn more through our article, “Personal Liability Insurance in Germany: A Guide for Expats.”

And – make sure you have a bank account in Germany! You can find out more about banking in Germany in our article, “German Banks: A Guide for Foreigners in Germany 2020.

*Full Disclosure: Some of the links we use on this website are affiliate links. By using those links, you help keep our website free. There is no additional cost for you. We also want to note that we only recommend services we trust and that we would use ourselves.

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