Applying for health insurance prior to arrival
If you are applying for health insurance as part of your visa or residence permit requirements, it is essential that you do so well in advance.
Although there is no set deadline for this, applications can sometimes take weeks or even months to process – particularly if you have pre-existing conditions or require a medical check-up prior to acceptance.
Remember: Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living and working in Germany. If you do not have health insurance in place that meets the requirements of Section 257 of the German Social Code Book V (SGB V), your visa or residence permit application will be rejected.
Applying to stay privately insured following a change in circumstances
If you have private health insurance and your circumstances change, you may be required to switch to the public (statutory) insurance system – perhaps due to a change in income.
However, you can apply to your health insurance provider (Krankenkasse) for an exemption from this regulation. Section 8 of the German Social Code Book V (SGB V) sets out valid grounds for exemption, including:
- Falling into the statutory health insurance system due to a change in the annual pay threshold (Jahresarbeitsentgeltgrenze, or JAEG), currently set at €62,550 (2020) but rising each year
- Fall in income due to reduced working hours to provide care for a relative
- Receipt of unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld)
- Receipt of subsistence allowance (Unterhaltungsgeld)
The deadline for application to your health insurance provider is three months from the date on which you were required to enter the public insurance system.