Public health insurance for employees in Germany
Health insurance is compulsory for the whole population in Germany: you cannot live in Germany, even temporarily, without being covered by health insurance. If you are not insured, your visa request will be denied. If you decide to work in Germany, even for a short period, you must apply for a German health insurance!
The public health insurance is based on the principle of solidarity to ensure that everybody is able to access health care services. Germans trust their state health system: about 85% of the German population is insured under the GKV (national health system). Over 8.6 million people are insured with Barmer GEK, which is one of the biggest statutory health insurance providers in Germany.
In Germany, you do not automatically get an insurance card when you start working. You must first register with a 'Krankenkasse' (German health insurance fund). As an employee, you must inform your employer which health insurance company you have chosen. You can find more details about the German health insurance system in our Guide.
When should I apply for a public health insurance?
As an employee, you have to take out health insurance as soon as you’ve signed your work contract.
If you don't have a German address yet, you'll not be able to become a member of a public health insurance company. By law, you need first to do the so-called 'Anmeldung' (German address registration). Once your German address is registered at the 'Bürgeramt' (local citizens office), you'll be able to apply for a public German health insurance. More details in here.
Important: When you want to be insured on a voluntary basis, make sure you register with a statutory health insurance within 3 months of arriving in Germany; after that period, you'll have less chances of getting accepted!
Who is eligible for the public insurance scheme?
Membership in the public insurance is usually compulsory for all employees in Germany (if earning between 450€ and 4,687.50€ per month).
Employees can also be insured on public insurance voluntarily. Usually those eligible are members of public insurance funds who were previously on compulsory public health insurance, but do not fall within this category anymore, e.g. employees earning more than 4,687.50€ per month (gross).
Important: Please be aware that we do not process applications for pensioners, recipients of social welfare benefits and freelancers.
Why should I join the German statutory healthcare system?
- Contributions are based on your income and are deducted every month from your gross salary. Your employer roughly pays half of the amount that is decided by law. On top of this comes an additional premium that may vary depending on the health insurance fund: the current rate for Barmer GEK is 15.7%
- You will benefit from a reduced contribution if your salary is between 450,01€ and 850€
- Fees do not depend on your age or your health status
- Your medical history doesn't matter
- All public health insurance companies offer the same basic benefits and there is no difference between those benefits
- You can insure your children and spouse for free through the family insurance plan (if they have no income or only low income of their own)
Calculate here the contributions you'll have to pay as an employee.
Become a member of Barmer GEK in 4 easy steps
Sign up here and fill in our online form in English for free as far as possible. This form is available for employees & students in practical training.
Forward the PDF form you received, a scanned copy of your passport & a photo (passport size) to email@example.com.
The insurance confirmation will be sent by email within 5 working days. This certificate will be sufficient for all your administrative needs.
The insurer will send you the Insurance Card to the German address you specified on the form as soon as possible.