Good question! In short: Everyone who studies in Germany, whether they are a foreigner or a German citizen, is legally obliged to have health insurance. This can be your own insurance from your home country, but it can also happen that you have to take out German health insurance. So when this the case?
If you come from a member state of the European Union (EU), your health insurance will usually be accepted by German universities without any problems. Then there are the so-called "Schengen states" that have signed a social security agreement with Germany. If you are from a Schengen country, your health insurance is usually also accepted. You can find out which countries belong to the EU, and which Schengen countries are recognized in Germany here (in German).
If you are a citizen of an EU country or a Schengen country, you usually have an "EHIC" card - the European Health Insurance Card. With this card, you can go to any doctor or hospital in Germany, just like at home. Private health insurances should also be accepted by German universities, but to be on the safe side, you should check with your insurance company before you come to Germany.
If you come from a country outside of Europe, you will most likely have to take out health insurance in Germany, because non-European health insurances are usually not accepted. The best thing to do is to inquire about this with your health insurance company, and the German university at which you want to enroll.
German health insurance is not only a requirement for enrollment at a German university - it is also a requirement for your visa. You definitely need this if you want to study in Germany, even if it is only for one semester.
In Germany, you have the choice between statutory and private health insurance. Which one you should choose depends on several things, for example: How old you are? How long will your studies in Germany last? Would you like to insure family members?
Regardless of whether you come from an EU or Schengen state, or from outside of Europe: If you want to work in Germany alongside your studies, you have to join a German statutory health insurance company or have an equivalent private health insurance company.
We say "equivalent" because there are many private health insurances for foreigners in Germany, but not all of them are equivalent to German statutory health insurance. Be careful when you choose private health insurance! By the way, the technical term for "equivalent" in this context is "substitutive".
We still have to explain one important thing to you: The statutory health insurance companies in Germany offer students a special tariff. As a student, you pay much less for insurance than a non-student. But here comes the important point: With statutory health insurance, you only count as a student once the first semester has started.
Before this point in time, you cannot take out statutory health insurance because you are not yet officially a student. Many students come to Germany before the official start of their studies, for example, to attend a language course or to prepare for their studies in another way.
The same applies to the time after graduation. If you want to remain in Germany after the official end of your studies, you have to pay the normal insurance tariff with statutory health insurance. And that costs a lot more than the student tariff.
- If you come from an EU or Schengen country, and don't plan to work in Germany: Then you don't need German health insurance. Check with your insurance company to be on the safe side.
- If you plan to work in Germany alongside your studies: Then you need German health insurance. This also applies if you come from a non-European country.
As you can see, everything is not so simple regarding health insurance during your studies in Germany. This is precisely why we developed our Provisit insurance. It makes a lot of things much easier, and in most cases even cheaper.
Our Provisit is a substitutive full health insurance. It is accepted by immigration offices, embassies and universities without any problems. In addition, you can apply for it before you start your studies, and extend it after you have finished your studies.
In many cases, Provisit is much cheaper than statutory student health insurance, while at the same time providing more and better benefits. You can find details here.