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Health Insurance for Students

Written by
Janine El-Saghir
Health insurance is also compulsory for students in Germany. Statutory health insurance funds and private health insurance companies offer special student tariffs. We explain how German health insurance for students works and how you can take out statutory or private health insurance.
At a glance...

Germany — health insurance for students: Essentials

  • Students at state-recognized universities in Germany are subject to compulsory insurance in a statutory health insurance fund until they turn 30. Subsequently, they can voluntarily remain in public health insurance or switch to private health insurance.
  • However, students can apply for exemption from compulsory statutory health insurance at the beginning of their studies and take out private health insurance. This decision binds them until the end of their studies.
  • Students with public health insurance enjoy a particularly favorable premium. However, it’s worth noting that many private health insurers also offer competitive student rates, with usually significantly more comprehensive benefits. This can provide students with a strong sense of security about their health coverage.
  • International students in Germany can also choose between statutory and private health insurance. However, there are exceptions. For example, expat students taking a language or preparatory course can only take out private insurance.
  • FinTech insurer ottonova offers one of Germany’s best private student health insurance.

Students in statutory health insurance

Health insurance in Germany is based on two pillars: statutory and private health insurance.

The public health insurance system in Germany covers healthcare services based on standard care—these services are identical for all insured people. Medical service providers must have public health insurance approval and bill the public health insurance companies directly. The statutory health insurance providers are not entitled to refuse insurance as long as the applicant meets the requirements for statutory insurance.

For most people in Germany, statutory health insurance is compulsory. Switching to private health insurance is only possible under certain conditions.

Compulsory insurance and options for students

Compulsory public health insurance also applies to students. It ends at the age of 30. Subsequently, students can decide whether to take out statutory or private health insurance. However, at the beginning of your studies, there is also a one-off choice between the two systems.

If you already live in Germany, there are the following scenarios for your insurance decision:

  1. You are already statutory insured.

    If you want to keep this the same, present your certificate of enrollment to your health insurance provider to take advantage of the cheaper student insurance.

    If you wish to switch to private health insurance, you can do this only within the first three months of your studies. To accomplish this, you must apply to your public health insurance provider for exemption from mandatory insurance and choose a private health insurer.

  2. You are already privately insured.

    In this case, you can decide at the start of your studies whether to take out statutory student insurance or remain in private health insurance.

  3. You are insured free of charge through your parents.

    Up to 25, you can be co-insured in statutory family insurance without paying contributions, provided your monthly income from a mini-job does not exceed €538. After the end of family insurance, you can also decide whether to take out statutory or private health insurance.

Student’s contributions to statutory health insurance

Students pay a standard contribution of €82.99 per month (2024) to all statutory health insurance companies. On top of this, there are additional contributions from statutory health insurance providers and contributions to statutory long-term care insurance (€32.48 for students over 23 without children, €27.61 for all others). On average, students pay €125 for these two insurances.

Info: Health insurance coverage in other European countries

As a student with statutory insurance, you are automatically covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in other European countries. It is valid in all countries of the European Union as well as in Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

Students over 30

As students reach the age of 30, their mandatory insurance comes to an end. This marks a transition to voluntary insurance with a statutory health insurance company, bringing about changes in their insurance status.

Voluntarily insured students pay a minimum contribution of €165.37, calculated based on a notional monthly income of €1,178.33 and a reduced contribution rate of 14% (insurance without sickness benefit). The contributions to long-term care insurance remain unchanged.

Alternatively, students can switch to private health insurance anytime after their 30th birthday.

Health insurance for international students in Germany

Health insurance required from the first day of international students in Germany. However; there are differences between different groups of students, at least in the initial phase.

Students from the EU and countries with social insurance agreements

Students from the EU and countries that have concluded a social insurance agreement with Germany can use healthcare services in Germany with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you wish to remain permanently insured in home country’s health insurance, you must have this insurance recognized in Germany. Recognition of statutory health insurance in the countries concerned is generally possible. Foreign private health insurance policies are recognized, if they fulfill German health insurance standards.

However, you will need domestic insurance for a part-time or paid internship.

International students from all other countries

If you are a citizen of any other country, you must take out the insurance before entering Germany. German embassies require proof of health insurance to issue a student visa. Travel health insurance is not recognized for this purpose.

Before entering Germany, you can take out insurance with a statutory or a private health insurer. You will receive a confirmation of insurance from the health insurance company, which you present to the German embassy when you apply for your student visa.

International students without entitlement to statutory insurance

Most international students can decide whether to take out statutory or private health insurance.

However, some international students and academics are not eligible for German statutory health insurance. These include:

  • Language students and preparatory course students
  • International scholarship holders and doctoral students
  • Visiting academics and foreign researchers without regular employment at a German university
  • Foreign students with a freelance or self-employed activity

Private health insurance for students in Germany

The way private health insurance works and the benefits it offers differ from statutory insurance:

  • Private health insurance companies offer their customers one or more tariffs with a defined scope of benefits. Only benefits the tariff covers are insured.
  • The benefits provided by private health insurance plans are almost always more comprehensive than those offered by statutory health insurance.
  • Private health insurance costs depend on the customer’s risk profile. The criteria for this are the customer’s age and state of health at the start of the insurance and specific professional and private risk factors.
  • The health insurance company knows about these risks before the contract is concluded by using health questions, which you must answer entirely and truthfully. Otherwise, the company can refuse benefits or cancel the contract.
  • High risks — such as pre-existing conditions — can lead to risk surcharges, benefit exclusions, or rejection of the insurance application.
  • Doctors and other medical service providers will issue you with an invoice, which you submit to your insurance company and are reimbursed by it. There are exceptions for hospital treatment — the insurance company usually settles the bill directly with the hospital.
  • Depending on your tariff, you can reduce your insurance premium through deductibles.

Student tariffs in private health insurance

Students’ rates for private insurance are typically particularly favorable. There are several reasons for this:

  • Young entry age and good state of health at the start of insurance
  • No old-age provisions
  • Sometimes, the slightly lower scope of benefits compared to regular tariffs

Age limits also apply to private student tariffs. Some insurance companies only offer them up to the age of 30. With other providers, you can keep your private health insurance plan for students up to 39. As an alternative to age limits, maximum insurance periods — for example, 60 months — may also apply to student tariffs. Many student tariffs offer premium stability over the entire term.

You must switch to a regular insurance plan if you are still studying after exceeding the age limit or the maximum insurance period.

Criteria for choosing private insurance

Comparing providers and student tariffs before deciding on a private health insurance plan. The following criteria are critical when choosing private insurance:

  • Premium amount and price-performance ratio of the tariff
  • Deductible
  • Health insurance covers — outpatient and inpatient benefits, dental prevention and dental treatment, reimbursement of psychotherapies, remedies, and aids such as physiotherapy and visual aids
  • Additional benefits — for example, alternative practitioner treatments and alternative therapies
  • Worldwide insurance cover for private trips abroad and (also longer) study-related stays abroad
  • Age limits or maximum terms
  • General service quality and availability of digital services

How to find the best private student health insurance

You can also seek advice from an insurance expert to find private health insurance plans for students that best suit your needs — for example, from the Berlin-based FinTech company Getsafe.

Independent insurance advice in German and English

Getsafe offers various insurance policies and acts as an independent advisor for private health insurance. Advice is provided by telephone or digitally in English or German. You will then get the best offers as soon as possible. If you need clarification or more information, you can also contact Getsafe anytime.

Our editorial recommendation: ottonova student health insurance

ottonova is a FinTech insurance provider that specializes in digital health insurance. In addition to comprehensive health insurance, it offers supplementary dental and hospital insurance for those with statutory health insurance.

We can explicitly recommend the ottonova policy if you want to take out private student insurance. In independent reviews, ottonova has repeatedly received top marks for its insurance products and service quality.

In practice, ottonova has also proven to be particularly expat-friendly. This provider’s website, mobile app, and services are available in German and English.

You can manage all insurance matters easily and digitally in the ottonova app. A concierge service allows you to book doctor’s appointments, other medical services, and video chats with doctors. Medical documents are also stored in the app.

ottonova tariffs for students

ottonova’s private health insurance for students is available in three high-performance variants, which you can take up to 39 with no time limit.

All tariffs offer free choice of doctor, treatment by the hospital’s head physician, no age limit for preventive check-ups, access to private doctors and private clinics, nursing care insurance, and worldwide insurance cover, including a return service.

In the Study Smart tariff, outpatient treatment costs are reimbursed up to 3.5 times the rate, and in the other two, up to 5 times the rate of the scale of fees for doctors.

Study Smart

  • €111 per month
  • No excess, excellent value for money
  • 2-bed room in hospital
  • Dental treatment 100%, dentures 70%
  • Professional dental cleaning once a year, maximum €80
  • Visual aids €100 every 60 months

Study Protect

  • €110 per month
  • €500 excess per year, excellent insurance cover
  • 2-bed room in hospital
  • Dental treatment 100%, dentures 80%
  • Professional dental cleaning once a year, maximum €125
  • Visual aids €550 every 36 months
  • Alternative practitioner treatments €2,000 within 36 months

Study Free

  • €127 per month
  • No excess, the best possible insurance cover
  • 2-bed room in hospital
  • Dental treatment 100%, dentures 80%
  • Professional dental cleaning once a year, maximum €125
  • Visual aids €550 every 36 months
  • Alternative practitioner treatments €2,000 within 36 months

Private expat insurance

Sometimes, private expat insurance can be an alternative to full private health insurance. It can be taken out for a maximum of five years. German embassies recognize it when granting a student visa. However, its benefits are usually somewhat lower than those of regular tariffs.

This insurance can be an adequate solution for:

  • Language and preparatory course students
  • Foreign students and doctoral candidates who are only completing part of their studies in Germany
  • International guest scientists, postdocs, and researchers

ottonova offers its very high-performance expat insurance with worldwide coverage in four tariffs — including a policy with no excess — and monthly premiums between €167 and €352. Its benefits correspond to the scope of a private comprehensive health insurance policy, even with the cheaper tariffs.

The Berlin-based FinTech insurer Feather also offers a comparable product with a lower scope of benefits, which is also explicitly aimed at expats in Germany with its digital insurance products. Feather’s portfolio includes personal liability insurance, travel health insurance, private supplementary dental insurance, and two pet insurance policies. Feather expat insurance is available for €72 or €134 per month. Insurance coverage is provided in the EU, throughout the Schengen area, and for six weeks a year worldwide, including in the home country. This health insurance only covers medical treatment for acute illnesses and accidents.

Conclusion

Most students in Germany can choose between statutory and private health insurance when they start their studies.

Private health insurance is often the better choice for students due to its broader range of benefits and affordable student rates.

FinTech insurer ottonova offers three particularly high-performance private student tariffs ideal for international students.

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

Yes. International students who study at a state-recognized university and wish to take out private insurance must also apply for exemption from compulsory insurance. Before entering Germany, you can apply for this exemption with any statutory health insurance such as AOK or Techniker Krankenkasse fund and then select a private insurer.

That depends on your professional activity after graduation. Your insurance status changes, and you must switch to statutory health insurance if you are employed and your income is below the compulsory insurance limit of €69,300 per year (status 2024). If you take out qualifying insurance with your insurer, you can return to private insurance later without going through health checks again.

If you become self-employed or freelancing immediately after graduating, you must remain in private insurance. Usually, you can then switch to a regular adult tariff without a new health check.

Many, but not all, private insurance providers offer special student tariffs. For example, you can also find high-performance student tariffs from Allianz, AXA, or Nürnberger Versicherung.

We particularly recommend modern digital insurers such as ottonova, which offer favorable, transparent conditions and are expat-friendly. ottonova offers one of the best private health insurance for students on the German market.

About the author
Janine El-Saghir Read more
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