Application process

German bureaucracy is renowned the world over and applying for health insurance can seem a daunting task. Here are the key things you should know.

Which provider should I choose?

The million dollar question! Key factors to consider include cost, coverage and how you plan to save for later in life. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together an eBook outlining the most important differences between the public and private insurance systems and the benefits of each.

Once you have chosen a system, you should compare the various health insurance providers on the market. You can then contact them online or by telephone for instructions on their specific application process, which will likely include a full medical history.

Will I need to pass a health exam?

As with many things in the German healthcare system, this depends on whether you opt for public or private health insurance.

Public health insurance (GKV)

Public health insurance providers accept applicants regardless of their health status. Pre-existing conditions do not pose an issue: the public system offers a universal level of cover and your premiums will be the same regardless of the state of your health.

However, insurance coverage typically follows the minimum coverage regulations set down by the government, meaning that more complex treatments (and some standard ones, such as dental treatment) may not be included in your insurance coverage.

Private health insurance (PKV)

Private health insurance providers are not obliged to accept every applicants. People with pre-existing conditions are likely to be subject to higher premiums – particularly if they want such conditions to be covered by their policy.

Private health insurance providers require applicants to undergo a medical check-up. This system protects all other policyholders and helps to keep premiums down within the insurance collective.

Applying to ottonova

ottonova is Germany’s first fully digital health insurance provider! You can manage every aspect of your healthcare, from arranging appointments to claiming reimbursements, using the ottonova app on your mobile phone.

Unlike some insurance providers, ottonova meets all requirements of Section 257 of the German Social Code (Book V), which sets down health insurance requirements for obtaining a visa or residence permit. We also arrange for you to have a medical check-up at a time and place that suits you.

We also offer a special Expat tariff, tailored to your needs and lifestyle. If you would like to find out more, book a consultation with one of our English-speaking insurance experts, who will be happy to advise you and guide you through the application process.


ottonova is fully regulated by the BaFin and therefore fulfilling the requirements (§ 257 7Abs. 2a Satz 1 SGB V and the § 61 Abs. 5 SGB XI) for you to be able to apply for a visa with your ottonova insurance, which also includes our Expat tariff of course.

The payment is different than in the public system. With private health insurance you pay the full tariff to us at the beginning of the month. If you are employed your employer will contribute their part to your health insurance through your salary.

ottonova for Expats.

You have so much to do when moving to Germany, don’t let your health insurance slow you down. Let ottonova make your life easier.

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