Health insurance Germany & unemployed: What possibilities do I have?

What actually happens to your German health insurance if you become unemployed? Can you remain insured at all and how does it look then with the financing? Can I stay in private health insurance or do i have to switch to the statutory health insurance system? What about benefits and Hartz IV? We have summarized all the important scenarios as well as questions and answers for you on the subject of "health insurance Germany & unemployed".

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The basics about health insurance & unemployment in brief:

What happens to your health insurance in Germany when you get unemployed?

If you get unemployed you have different health insurance options:

  1. you stay publicly insured
  2. you have to switch from private to public insurance
  3. you can stay in private health insurance

What option applies depends on your current insurance and how long you are already insured there.

You receive benefit I (ALG I) and are under 55 years old:

If someone becomes unemployed, they either stay in public health insurance or would have to switch from private to public health insurance.

If you don't do anything, you stay in the statutory insurance that you belong to or will end up in the last public insurance you had belonged to before you switched to private health insurance.

But there are exceptions! Long-time privately insured persons can stay in private health insurance and enjoy health insurance coverage of a PKV even though they are unemployed.

How do you have to proceed as a privately insured person in order not to automatically slip into the statutory insurance?

After being 5 years in PKV you can remain there unemployed. Therefore you must be exempted from the public health insurance and presented to the employment agency within 3 months after the start of compulsory public insurance. You can apply for this certificate at any statutory health insurance company. This way you keep your existing coverage.

If you have decided to remain in the private health insurance, you can no longer reverse this step and remain in the private health insurance during the entire period of unemployment.

You receive Hartz IV and are over 55s

If you are self-employed, for example, but things are not going so well, you can supplement your income with Hartz IV. If you receive unemployment benefit II directly, you remain in public or in the private health insurance. In this case, a change from PKV to GKV is out of the question.

It is also mandatory that over 55-year-olds remain in private health insurance, even if they become unemployed.

Does the Federal Employment Agency pay health insurance contributions during unemployment?

The contributions to public health insurance are paid by the Federal employment agency. Contributions to private health insurance on the other hand must be paid even during unemployment. But the Agency pays part of the monthly contributions. This is up to the amount that it would also pay if the privately insured person had statutory insurance, but no more than the amount of your actual contributions.

The subsidy for private health and long-term care insurance can be applied for from the Employment Agency and is limited to the amount of your halved contribution in the basic tariff. In 2023, the maximum subsidy for private health insurance is therefore 403.99 euros per month. For long-term care insurance, it is 76.06 euros.

Note: However, this subsidy only applies to the actual insurance premium and not to the agreed deductible.

FAQ about private health insurance in case of unemployment

It is possible to be privately insured even during the period of unemployment. To do so, you must submit a notice of exemption from compulsory public health insurance insurance to the employment agency within two weeks of becoming unemployed.

It is possible to switch to public health insurance while you are unemployed. Before switching, think about taking out a standby insurance policy that freezes your conditions so that you do not have to pass another health check when you later switch to private health insurance.

Espen Markus Mjøs
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.

ottonova sales experts
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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