Advisor for international doctoral candidates and researchers
Service for international researchers
Germany has two different health insurance systems: state (statutory/public) insurance and private health insurance. The occupational group (for example civil servants or freelancers) and the annual employment income determine whether a person is eligible for private health insurance. If the income is below the upper income limit (Jahresarbeitsentgeltgrenze), which is fixed on a yearly basis, employees are covered by statutory public health insurance; if it is above that limit, employees can opt for private health insurance.
In Germany, health insurance coverage is mandatory for all visiting researchers and family members accompanying them. We strongly recommend that you contact the insurance provider of your choice in good time to clarify any questions and issues you may have in advance and to ensure that you are insured from the very first day of your stay in Germany.
Contributions to statutory public health insurance are legally stipulated and uniform rates that apply throughout Germany. They are deducted from an employee's gross salary by the employer. As of 2015, the contributions are 14,6 percent of income with 7,3 percent paid by the employer and employee, respectively. The range of medical services this insurance comprises hardly varies from provider to provider, differing only in terms of customer service, additional (voluntary) services or optional services for an additional charge. Many health insurance providers charge an additional contribution (Zusatzbeitrag) to the 14,6 percent that varies depending on the provider, and which is fully paid by the employee.
You have free choice of health insurance provider. Before signing up with one it is important to compare terms and benefits carefully to find the health insurance provider that best suits your individual needs. If you wish to bring your family with you to Germany (spouse, children), they can be covered by your health insurance with no extra charge (Familienversicherung, family health insurance). Even if your spouse and children do not live with you in Germany you can still obtain family health insurance for them if they live in a country with which Germany has a social security agreement.
Unlike with private health insurance, it is your health insurance provider that will be billed for any medical treatment you receive (unless it is a medical service that is not covered by your health insurance provider). All you need if you go to a doctor is your electronic Health Insurance Card (eHealth Card, or elektronische Gesundheitskarte), with the words European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) printed on its reserve. This insurance card is issued only by statutory health insurance providers. It is valid not only in Germany but can also simplify the process for receiving treatment during temporary visits abroad within Europe. You will be eligible for medical treatment in any other EU member state, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and to the same extent as residents of those countries. The costs will be paid at the same rate as they would if incurred at home, but if the costs exceed that amount you must pay the difference.
Unlike contributions to statutory public health insurance, contributions to private health insurance are not based on income level but on age, gender, profession, current health status, and the range of services you wish to receive. The more services, the higher the contributions are.
As a private patient, you will receive a bill for medical costs from your doctor. You pay the bill first and then submit the invoice to your health insurance provider, who will then reimburse you. Unlike statutory public health insurance, private health insurance does not include free family health insurance but will require contributions for each family member (spouse, children).
Depending on whether you are staying in Oldenburg within the framework of an employment contract or a scholarship, different regulations apply:
If your stay in Germany is based on an employment contract, you will automatically be covered by statutory public health insurance. Under the laws and regulations of social security insurance, employees are insured in the country of employment even if they live abroad, for example in a neighbouring country. Exemptions apply for workers posted from an EU member state who live and work in another EU member state on a temporary basis. Complete an A1 form (formerly E 101) to apply to remain insured in your home country (provided by europa.eu).
If your scholarship or fellowship does not include health insurance coverage, you may only apply for private insurance. However, if your stay in Germany exceeds 12 months you may also apply for voluntary statutory public health insurance, i.e. you have the choice.
Depending on the duration of your stay, there are different regulations concerning social security rights and health insurance coverage when moving within the European Union.
Short visits (conference, vacation, business trip)
If you need to consult a doctor or need medical treatment while travelling within the European Union or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you will initially have to pay the costs of the treatment in your host country. After having submitted the receipts to your insurance provider, whether private or state insurer, the costs will be reimbursed to the same amouint they would if they had been incurred for treatment at home; you must cover any costs in excess of that amount.
It may be advisable to take out additional private travel or international health insurance. To facilitate treatment during temporary visits abroad, every health insurance provider is obliged to issue its members with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
An extended visit abroad is a visit that lasts a semester or an entire year. For extended stays within the EU as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, the following applies instead of the European Health Insurance Card for insurance:
As the European Health Insurance Card covers short visitsonly, it is important that you apply for German health insurance to receive full medical care. Citizens of the European Union, of the European Economic Area and of Switzerland who are employed in one country but live in another, so-called frontier workers or cross-border workers, are insured in the country of employment rather than in the country of residence. In order to receive medical care in your country of residence, you may apply to your health insurance provider for a S1 form (formerly E 106, E 109 and E 121). This document will entitle you and your dependants to receive medical services in the country you live in, but not work in, and in which you would otherwise not be insured.
See Europa.eu for useful information on social security rights and the forms you need when moving around within the European Union.