Navigating the German Healthcare System: A Comprehensive Guide

German Healthcare System Overview

How does German health insurance work?

  • The majority of residents in Germany are part of the statutory public healthcare insurance system (GKV).

  • Contributions are made via social security payments, covering services provided by hospitals and doctors.
  • Private healthcare insurance (PKV) is also available, offering access to similar services with additional benefits.

What is the difference between private and public health insurance in Germany?

  • Public healthcare is funded through employee and employer contributions deducted from wages.
  • Private healthcare is paid directly by the insured individual, offering additional perks like advanced dental treatment.

What is statutory health insurance in Germany?

  • Mandatory for all residents and visitors, covering around 90% of the population.
  • Public insurance is automatic for most employees, with options to choose providers.
  • Find out more about statutory health insurance on our Public Healthcare in Germany page.

🌐 Internationals

German health insurance for internationals

  • Typically takes the form of public healthcare.
  • Not all insurers offer English-language support, so it’s essential to find a provider with English services.

Do I need health insurance in Germany?

  • Compulsory for every resident, including short-term visitors.
  • EU citizens can use EHIC cards, while non-EU citizens may need private healthcare cover.

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Student visa

  • Proof of healthcare insurance is required for a student visa application.

How to get health insurance number in Germany?

  • Upon joining the healthcare system, you’ll receive a healthcare insurance number and card.

What is the cost of health insurance in Germany?

  • Costs vary based on provider, health status, and level of cover.
  • Public healthcare contributions start at 7.3% of gross salary.

🩺 What does health insurance cover in Germany?

  • Generally covers doctor visits, basic dental care, surgery, and essential hospital treatments.

How to cancel health insurance in Germany?

  • Social security contributions cease when employment ends.
  • Private insurance cancellation requires contacting the provider.

🦷 Dental care

Routine procedures covered

  • Check-ups, hygiene appointments, and fillings are typically covered.
  • Major dental work may require additional insurance.


  • A booklet to track dental visits, potentially offering discounts on future work.

Quality of dentistry

  • Germany boasts high-quality dental care, with trained staff even in smaller towns.

🤒 Sick leave in Germany

Employment laws

  • Employers must pay for up to six weeks of sick leave at full pay.
  • Sickness Allowance is available for longer-term illnesses.

Private healthcare

  • Private insurance for students may cover sickness payments during studies.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Notify employers promptly, obtain sick notes, and prioritize well-being.

💊 Pharmacies in Germany

Identifying pharmacies

  • Look for the red ‘A’ logo; pharmacies stock prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
  • Distinguish from drugstores, which sell toiletries.

Opening hours

  • Pharmacies have specific opening hours and emergency services.

📝 List of common words for health insurance in Germany

Useful terms

  • From pharmacy to insurance phrases, essential vocabulary for navigating healthcare.

Emergency procedures

  • Emergency numbers and non-urgent medical query lines for assistance.

📈 How much is health insurance in Germany?

Cost considerations

  • Fees vary based on income and insurance provider.
  • Private insurers may offer greater coverage but at higher costs.

Is healthcare free in Germany?

  • No, healthcare costs are covered through insurance schemes, with varying expenses based on coverage and status.

This comprehensive guide provides insights into navigating the German healthcare system, ensuring residents and visitors can access the care they need efficiently and effectively.

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