Public health insurance: The Electronic Health Card
In 2015, the German government introduced the Electronic Health Card (elektronische Gesundheitskarte, or eGK for short) for everyone with public (statutory) health insurance.
It features information about you to confirm your identity and information that allows doctors to treat you and bill for your treatment appropriately. Each card includes:
- The insured person’s name, insurance provider (Krankenkasse) and insurance ID number
- A photo of the insured person
- The Electronic Health Card logo and the logo of the insured person’s insurance provider
- An encrypted microchip containing details of the insured person’s insurance status and key health information, such as allergies and current medication
Two cards in one: eGK and EHIC
The reverse of the eGK is used for the European Health Insurance Card, more commonly known as an EHIC (German: Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte). This allows people insured in the German public insurance system to enjoy free healthcare coverage in EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
In many countries, the EHIC is a separate card, but the modern German system combines two cards in one.
Private health insurance: PKV cards
People with private health insurance in Germany usually receive a card directly from their insurance provider. Each card usually carries the name of the insurance company – so, for example, if you were insured with a fictional insurance provider called AB123, you would receive an AB123 card.
Not all private insurance providers issue insurance cards. Unlike in the public insurance system, cards are not mandatory in the private system. However, because they contain information about you and your insurance cover, they are certainly useful and help to simplify payments to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies.