Private health Insurance for foreigners in Germany: Key factors and benefits

Anyone who lives and works in Germany needs health insurance. In addition to public health insurance, there is also private health insurance, which offers first-class-benefits – find out when private health insurance is an option for you and if it is worthwile for you.

You want to discover the world and develop professionally? Perhaps you would like to immerse yourself in the everyday life of Germany for a while: The modern democracy in the heart of Europe attracts many people from different nations every year.

Foreigners in Germany

Welcome to one of the best health care systems

Germany has made immigration easier for skilled and highly qualified workers. Another plus point is the German healthcare system, which is one of the best in the world. Here, no one has to fear high costs when visiting a doctor or hospital, or if they are dependent on care services.
If you want to work or study in Germany for a while, you can see for yourself. However, the high level of medical care does not come without complexity. The following article therefore provides clarity and makes it easier for you to get started with the topic.

Private health insurance for foreigners in Germany: What you need to know

Germans can take out private or public health insurance. Public health insurance (GKV) offers solid basic health care, while private health insurance (PKV) offers more extensive coverage and benefits. Whether private health insurance is right for you depends on two factors.

By the way: No matter which system you choose, it is important that you have health insurance by the time you start working in Germany. It is also a prerequisite for your visa or enrollment.

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Factor No. 1: Your origin

Are you coming to Germany from Europe or will you be travelling a long way to work in hip Berlin or sophisticated Munich? Your answer determines how you can insure yourself.

Private health insurance for EU citizens

If you are an EU citizen and are only staying in Germany temporarily, you are usually covered by the health insurance in your home country. It is still being negotiated whether this will also apply to Britons who come to Germany from 2021. 
If you want to stay longer and work here, you have to take out health insurance in Germany. When it comes to the question of "private or public health insurance", the same conditions apply to you as to German citizens: If your salary is above the annual income limit (JAEG) of currently €69,300 per year, you can take out private insurance. As a private patient, you enjoy first-class benefits for your health.

Private health insurance for non-EU citizens

In the case of temporary stays by non-EU citizens, Germany may also accept foreign health insurance under certain circumstances. This is the case, for example, with countries of origin with which Germany has a social security agreement, such as Turkey or Israel. 
However, if you want to live and work in Germany for a longer period of time as a non-EU citizen, you must also take out insurance here - and observe the upper limit if you want to take out private insurance.

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Private or public health insurance?

What's best for you? Find out with our ebook?

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Factor No. 2: Your Job

You want to develop your career in Germany? Regardless of their origin, all foreigners working in Germany must take out health insurance here.

This applies to the different positions:

PKV for expats: Who is considered an expat and who is not?

Germans are known for taking everything very seriously. That's why we'll also address the question of what an expat actually is and how you can insure yourself as an expat.

In Germany, the term expat is classically used for specialists and managers who are sent to a branch office in Germany by an international company abroad. In the meantime, however, many foreigners who come to Germany on their own initiative for a certain period of time to work here also consider themselves expats.

For your health insurance, it makes a difference whether you are considered an expat or not. With the ottonova expat health insurance for germany, for example, you get the best benefits for your health and even save money.

Who can take out the expat tariff?

For expats, as for all other foreigners, the following applies: As an employee with a salary above the JAEG or as a self-employed person with corresponding prior insurance, private health insurance is open to you. ottonova offers a special expat tariff for some expats:

This is why you save with the expat tariff

Regular private health insurance tariffs build up so-called age reserves. This means that you pay a little more than necessary today to keep your premium stable in the future. However, if you are an expat who is only staying in Germany temporarily, you can save this buffer and invest in an investment instead - because it doesn't matter where you enjoy your retirement.

Differences in health insurance for foreigners in Germany

What does PKV offer for foreigners in Germany compared to public health insurance? Here is an overview of the most important differences:


  • Depending on the chosen tariff, age at entry and state of health
  • Employees receive subsidies from the employer


  • contractually and individually fixed
  • valid for life
  • exceed the level of the public health insurance, for example for dental treatment, visual aids and in hospital world-wide coverage


  • You pay your bills yourself and have them reimbursed by your private health insurance - with ottonova, reimbursement mostly takes no longer than a few days.


  • are based on income
  • Employees share the costs with the employer


  • fixed by law
  • can be changed at any time by the legislator


  • the health insurance pays the costs for medical treatment, medication or hospitalization
  • the GKV must act economically and offers only limited services
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Your Welcome Guide

We put together an essential life admin for you, so you can understand and embrace Germany's peculiarities.

Does the private health insurance make sense for foreigners?

Whether private health insurance is worthwhile for foreigners in Germany depends on their individual life plans. Many people choose private health insurance out of conviction because it gives them full coverage for their health.

With private health insurance, you are more flexible in terms of benefits. With an expatriate plan, you can even save money. If you want to find out whether the German health system lives up to its reputation in the world, the best way to do so is with private health insurance. Because only as a private patient do you have access to modern treatment methods.

The most important advantages of private health insurance for foreigners:

With private health insurance in your luggage, you can enjoy even the most exciting trip of your life with peace of mind. If you opt for public health insurance, you can upgrade your benefits with private supplementary insurance if you wish.

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HIER SCHREIBT Espen Markus Mjøs

Espen Markus - originally from Norway - is sales agent in ottonova's English sales team. He's in contact with potential customers every day and answers Expats' questions about German health insurance.

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HIER SCHREIBT ottonova sales experts

Our ottonova team of experts has over 40 years of experience in private health insurance and answers questions about it every day. What are old-age provisions and for whom does private health insurance make sense? What is the actuarial interest rate and which tariff is right for you? They know!

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