The Health Insurance System in Germany

In Germany you have to have health insurance. This also applies to students. If you want to study in Germany, you have to prove that you have health insurance when you enroll. In many cases, proof of your own health insurance from your home country is sufficient. But it may also be necessary to take out German health insurance.

So, if you need German health insurance, you have the choice between statutory and private health insurance. What is the difference? Let's take a look at that here.

Statutory Health Insurance ("Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung" GKV)

The law stipulates that everyone in Germany must have health insurance. That is why it is named "statutory health insurance". There are many different GKVs in Germany, including the Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse AOK ("General Local Health Insurance"), the Deutsche Angestellten Krankenkasse DAK ("German Salaried Health Insurance") or the Techniker Krankenkasse TK ("Technician's Health Insurance"). Don't let these names confuse you: DAK is not just for employees and TK is not just for technicians.

Anyone subject to insurance can take out insurance from these health insurance companies. You have the choice of which health insurance company you want to join. You can find a list of German statuory health insurance organisations here.

What can also be linguistically confusing is in German, one usually says that one "takes out" an insurance policy. But this does not apply to a GKV. You have to "join" a GKV. So, you become a "member" of a GKV. The money that is paid monthly to the GKV is therefore called a "membership fee".

The basic task of a GKV is to give you statutory standard medical care. That means: The GKV pays the doctors and hospitals if you get sick and need treatment. In addition, the GKV pays for medication. The GKV was introduced in Germany in 1883, with the aim of ensuring that all German citizens receive basic medical care, even those who had little money and could, therefore, not afford any medical treatment.

And more or less, that still applies today: You get a good minimum pension. However, you pay much more for membership in a statutory health insurance today than you did back then.

Private Health Insurance ( "Private Krankenversicherung" PKV)

As a student, however, you don't necessarily have to take out statutory health insurance. In Germany, you can join a private health insurance at any time. If you have already found out about private health insurance on the Internet, then you may know that private health insurance is usually more expensive than statutory health insurance, because it provides more. In other words: Private health insurance also pays for things that statutory health insurance does not normally pay for. This mostly includes dentures, glasses and other items.

As already stated: It is fundamentally correct that private health insurance is more expensive than statutory health insurance, and that is stated everywhere on the Internet. But that doesn't apply to provision. Our commission costs less money than a GKV, but pays for more treatments and medication. 

In other words: With the provision you pay even less than for a statutory health insurance company, but in return you get the services of a private health insurance company.

However it is possible that, depending on your private situation, GKV is cheaper for you, if, for example, you want to insure your spouse and children.

Make sure that it is a private FULL health insurance!

There are many offers from private health insurances for your stay in Germany. No matter which one you choose: make sure that it is a "comprehensive health insurance" ("Krankenvollversicherung")! Because many of these offers are actually "only" travel health insurance, which means they are not equivalent to statutory health insurance.

In Germany, it is a law that private health insurance must be at least as good as statutory health insurance. In other words, it must provide the same services at the very least. Only then can this private health insurance refer to itself as "comprehensive health insurance". Many travel health insurances do not provide the same services as a GKV, and are, therefore, not full health insurances.

What does this have to do with your studies in Germany? German universities only accept full health insurance when enrolling, i.e., either statutory health insurance or private full health insurance.

Provisit is, of course, a comprehensive health insurance and is, therefore, recognized by all authorities, offices and universities.