In Germany health insurance is mandatory.
Therefore you should take care of registering for a suitable health insurance in time. The insurance scheme and the health insurance provider that is right for you depends amongst other on your status (employee vs. scholarship holder) and your income.
In Germany you find three insurance schemes:
Every international doctoral candidate who is an employee (e.g. has signed a work contract with the TU Darmstadt, another research institution or a private employer) and who undercuts a certain fixed income limit must take up compulsory insurance within the social health insurance fund.
Compulsory insurance is paid partially by the employee and the employer. This means that in Germany the employer substantially supports your health insurance financially. Like all social security contributions your share will be automatically deducted from your gross income.
You can choose the health insurance provider freely but please don't forget to report your choice to your employer (if you are an employee of the University the human resources department must be informed).
Especially people with family profit from the benefits of the social health insurance fund because children and spouses who are not employed can be included in this health insurance scheme without additional costs.
International doctoral candidates who are not employed (e.g. scholarship holders) can be voluntary insured within the social health insurance fund.
Normally, you can only become a voluntary member if you can account for pre-insurance periods: these are defined as periods during which you have been insured in your home country or in Germany.
You can inquire at the health insurance provider of your choice whether pre-insurance periods from your home country are accepted and if you qualify to get insurance at this provider.
International doctoral candidates without a work contract and without pre-insurance periods with a health insurance fund in their home country must get a private health insurance.
Admission criteria of the private health insurances depend on several aspects like age, sex or health status. In addition the duration of the stay in Germany is important as well.
These aspects influence the rate of the monthly payments. Because the rates differ significantly between the different providers, we recommend that you check several private health insurance providers and ask for their admission criteria and their insurance benefits.
Especially with regard to the benefits the insurance schemes differ immensely.
It is important to read the contracts thoroughly and to understand which costs will not be covered (e.g. for psychological illnesses or pregnancies). Often the cheapest provider is not the best choice.
Please check for special rates that are valid for you as an international doctoral candidate.
With many private health insurances the patient has to pay for the treatment him-/herself first and will receive the money from the insurance provider once they receive the invoice. This means that you might need to provide a large sum of money up front should the situation arise. Please check the modalities with the designated insurance.
The following information applies to citizens of EU States, as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, who are spending time abroad:
Those who are insured on a voluntary basis or who are covered by statutory insurance may make use of the health services in other EU States, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and have the costs reimbursed by their health insurance company. Thus, in respect of ambulant treatment, those insured can choose themselves whether they wish to be treated in Germany or in another Member State. If they consult a doctor or use other medical services within the European Union they initially have to pay the costs of the treatment on the spot and then submit the receipts to their insurance company in their own country. The costs will then be reimbursed at the same level as they would if they had been incurred for treatment in Germany; any excess costs must be borne by patients themselves.
In the case of hospital treatment in another State, the agreement of the health insurance company must be obtained in advance. This may only be refused if the same or equally effective treatment at the same general standard of medical knowledge could be obtained for the patient in good time at a hospital in Germany.
Extended health insurance coverage comes into effect if someone covered by statutory insurance and his or her family are only staying in another country on a temporary basis – on holiday or business. In case of illness they are eligible for services that are necessary medically, including hospital treatment.
The European Health Insurance Card
To facilitate treatment during temporary visits abroad, every health insurance company is obliged to issue its members with a European Health Insurance Card. In case of illness in another EU country, or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, medical services are provided according to the laws of the host country and reimbursed according to the charges applying there: by presenting the card, patients are eligible both for services which are free of charge in the host country as well as for free medical treatment. Costs for services which usually incur charges in the host country will be covered by the health insurance company on presentation of the insurance card.
However, the European Health Insurance Card only has a limited scope. It is valid:
- for temporary stays abroad
- for necessary medical services
- not for trips abroad specifically for the purpose of treatment
- not for the costs incurred in transporting a patient home
An extended stay abroad is one that goes beyond that of a vacation, business trip or a conference visit, such as a guest professorship or research trip that lasts a semester or a year. For extended stays abroad within the European Union, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, instead of the European Health Insurance Card, the following applies:
If you are entitled to statutory health insurance at home, then your domestic health insurance provider will issue Form E106 or S1 on request. Form E106 or S1 entitles you and your family members to register with a German health insurance company. The German health insurance company will then provide all the services that a German health insurance scheme member is entitled to. The German health insurance company will subsequently bill the domestic health insurance provider for their costs.
If you are entitled to statutory health insurance in Germany and some members of your family have remained in your own country then the German health insurance provider will issue Form E109 or S1 on request. Form E109 or S1 allows those members of your family who have stayed at home to make use of the services of the statutory health insurance scheme without needing to pay contributions. The domestic health insurance provider will subsequently bill the German health insurance scheme for their costs.
From the arrival in Germany until you enroll as a Phd student or officially start working, you are – in most cases – not covered by a health insurance scheme (except EU citizens holding an European health insurance card).
Therefore a travel health insurance might be appropriate for the first few days in Germany.
Please be informed that a travel health insurance is not suitable when staying in Germany for an extended period of time.
Important links for private and statuary health insurance
|Statuary health insurance||
National Association of the Statuary Health Insurance|
German social insurance system
|Private health insurance||
Overview of private health insurance provider (in German)|
Insurance scheme offered by the DAAD
This website is for information purposes only and the statements are not legally binding. Please contact the authorities to clarify which regulations apply in your case.