The German healthcare system

Germany is among the biggest spenders on healthcare in the European Union. Its universal, multi-payer healthcare system includes a mix of public and private health insurance.

Helpful hints about healthcare in Germany

Moving to a new country is often unsettling. From finding an apartment to navigating complex public transport systems, getting started in Germany can feel daunting at first. However, the German health system is relatively straightforward. Here are a few tips to help you find your way:

  • Hospitals (Krankenhäuser) can be publicly, privately or charitably funded, but will treat all patients.
  • Pharmacies (Apotheken) are usually signposted with a large, red capital A or a green cross.
  • Co-payments in Germany are miniscule compared to those in the USA. In many cases, you can expect to pay your local doctor as little as €10 per quarter. Public health insurance rarely covers dental care in full, meaning patients can be left facing expensive bills. However, all of ottonova’s special expat tariffs cover the full cost of dental treatment.

Which health insurance is right for me?

All employees and students in Germany are legally required to pay into some form of health insurance. Most people pay into public health insurance, also known as statutory health insurance. This gives everyone equal access to the same decent level of healthcare. However, a growing number of people are opting for private health insurance. Not everyone is eligible for private health insurance, but you might qualify if you are a high earner or self-employed. By choosing a private health insurance policy, you can benefit from:

  • Shorter waiting times
  • A more extensive range of treatments (including dental)
  • Greater flexibility
  • More privacy during inpatient stays
  • Greater choice

There are numerous factors to consider before making your choice. To help you decide, we’ve put together a guide to different insurance types plus an explainer of the benefits of private health insurance.


Am I eligible for the Expat Tariff/ PKV tariff? Am I an expat in your definition?

If you are eligible for private health insurance and you are in Germany on a visa or a limited permit, we can offer you the Expat Tariff up to five years.

How is the payment working? Different than public insurance?

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.

Does the health insurance work with my visa?

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.

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