Your first priority when moving to Germany as an expatriate should always be German medical insurance. Doctors, medication and hospital care can be extremely expensive. Therefore, you must always make sure that you are covered for emergencies and sickness under the German medical insurance schemes.
It is worth noting that you will never normally get a residency permit without proof of satisfactory German medical insurance cover. Health insurance is compulsory for all students and employees in Germany; you will therefore be unable to start studying or working until cover is acquired. Furthermore, since new legislation instigated in 2009, any resident in Germany must possess German medical insurance from a health insurance provider licenced within Germany.
Should you be taking up long-term or permanent residency within Germany, then you must seek a local German medical insurance scheme. Holders of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can claim medical treatment under ‘the same terms as German citizens’, yet if planning to stay in the country you will need to sign up with insurance from a local health insurance provider.
Contributions to health insurance are split (almost evenly) between employees and employers. German residents are also required to hold long-term nursing care insurance, charged at a certain percentage of your total gross income (usually between 2% and 3%). Special insurance schemes are offered for students, with lower and favourable rates. It is important to remember that health insurance is part of the German social security system.
German Medical Insurance: State and Private
There are two parallel health insurance systems within Germany. Firstly there is state health insurance, run by the German government and compulsory for the majority of foreigners and most German nationals. Secondly, there is private health insurance that can be chosen in certain specific situations or cases. It offers a wider array of cover, however it is not always necessarily an advantage.
Almost anybody can join the government state insurance scheme, but only under very special circumstances can anyone leave the state cover solely for private insurance.
German Medical Insurance: Which Insurance Cover is for me?
If you are obligated to join the government state system, then there is very little point in comparing against the private cover. Should you be permitted to change to or take private health insurance then you need to compare the disadvantages and advantages of each system before making your final decision.
For more information on German Social Security, German Payroll, Working in Germany or Contracting in Europe visit the Euro Accountancy & Finance Services website.