German law requires every resident to have adequate health insurance coverage.
For short-term travel of up to 90 days, you can get a tourist visa and travel health insurance in that case.
For a stay in Germany beyond 90 days, though, you need proper health insurance.
Germany Expat Health Insurance Eligibility
If you are planning to reside for 6 months or longer in a foreign country, you can buy expatriate health insurance in Germany. Senior expat health insurance plans cover those above the age of 74. However, these plans have more restrictions and fewer benefits. You can extend a plan purchased before your 65th birthday to cover you beyond 74 years.
Germany Expat Health Insurance Even Beyond Statutory Health Insurance
If you are an expatriate employee in Germany with a gross salary of less than €59,400 per year (€4,950 per month) you must enroll with Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV). In all other scenarios, you are free to choose between public and private health insurance coverage.
You are free to choose private health insurance if:
- You are an employee with a gross salary above €59,400 per year (€4,950 per month).
- You are a degree student, a researcher, or a scientist.
- You are self-employed.
Private Expat Health Insurance Offers Better Coverage
It makes sense to buy private expat health insurance for additional benefits, even if GKV enrollment is mandatory for you. The benefits of German public healthcare are extremely limited.
Free public healthcare is available to all German citizens and legal residents. Funded by social security contributions rooted in the principle of solidarity, free public healthcare in Germany only covers the most basic medical needs, as detailed below:
- Inpatient care with access to ward beds only
- Outpatient care from general practitioners (the counterpart of medical doctors in the U.S.) and specialists like cardiologists
- Maternity care
- Basic dental care
- Employee sick note
- Statutory sick-pay up to 90 percent of your gross salary after your employer’s payment obligation has been fulfilled
As an expatriate in Germany, these basic benefits will not be enough for you. You need expat health insurance to have more coverage for a wider range of healthcare needs.
Purchase Expat Health Insurance for Comprehensive Healthcare Coverage
If you need to be hospitalized and would prefer a single or shared room for your stay, you would need to pay out of pocket for this amenity unless you have private medical insurance that will cover this cost. GKV will not cover this expense.
GKV does not cover advanced dental care, cancer care, eye care, and a host of other healthcare needs that you may have while in Germany. By choosing a comprehensive expat health insurance plan, you can prevent out-of-pocket expenses in such cases.
The norm in Germany is for the employer to bear half the cost of the insurance premium, even if you choose a private expat medical insurance plan. So, you create a win-win situation for yourself when you buy expat health insurance.
Lower Waiting Time and Higher Satisfaction with Expat Health Insurance
The average waiting time to secure an outpatient appointment for primary care in Germany is short. It varies between about 3 days for private insurance holders and 4 days for GKV holders. The difference in satisfaction levels, however, is much higher: nearly 80% for private insurance holders as opposed to just less than 65% for GKV holders.
For residents in certain parts of East Germany, the waiting time for GKV holders can be as long as 10 days. Such a difference does not exist in the case of private health insurance holders. GKV holders face a longer waiting time for specialized primary care as opposed to those with private insurance holders.
As an expatriate in Germany, you can lower your waiting time for primary care, specialized outpatient care, and heighten your satisfaction level with expat medical insurance.