Obligatory in Berlin: health insurance
In Berlin, you usually have a choice of health insurer. There are various insurance types. Which health insurance is suitable for you will depend on your income, professional status and/or residence status. Basically, there is a distinction between the following types of health insurance:
- Statutory health insurance
- Private health insurance
- Incoming insurance (an option for language students, interns, those applying to study, researchers, jobseekers and overseas doctoral candidates)
Health insurance is generally obligatory in Germany and non-compliance may result in financial penalties.
OUR TIP: The web portal berlin.de as well as the health insurance center offer comprehensive information around the topic "health insurance" in up to 40 national languages.
Statutory health insurance
Statutory German health insurance largely depends on the policies of the current government. These policies form the legal basis for the service catalogue. The service catalogue more or less ensures that all statutory health insurance provides a minimum level of cover. The basic insurance cover of the statutory health insurers includes, among others, the following services:
- Outpatient medical treatment
- Dental care
- Prescriptions and medicinal substances
- Inpatient stays and treatment
- Medically required rehabilitation
- Pregnancy and maternity services
You can enhance this statutory health insurance with so-called supplementary health insurance. This includes additional inpatient (private room, senior physician treatment, etc.), outpatient and dental services (implants, etc.).
The cost of monthly statutory health insurance contributions is based on your income. Currently, it is about 15.5% of your salary. Occasionally, however, legislation is passed that adjusts this amount. Your employer is responsible for just under 50% of this health insurance contribution (currently 7.3%). The remainder is deducted from your gross salary. In addition, contributions for so-called social security and unemployment insurance, as well as long-term care insurance, are also deducted from your gross salary. The contribution rate for long-term care insurance is currently around 2.55% of your gross income – approximately 1.275% of which is paid by your employer.
Private health insurance
In the case of private health insurance, you enter into a contract governed by civil law with a private health insurer. You can select the tariff and benefits of the insurance policy. The entry tariff is similar to the cost of statutory health insurance cover. Comfort tariffs are also available, which extend the service scope – almost everything is covered, with fewer limits.
The cost of monthly contributions is based on the following criteria:
- Age when taking out the policy
- Type of tariff (entry, mid or comfort tariff)
To be accepted for private health insurance as an employee currently requires an annual gross salary of at least EUR 59,400. This salary limit rises slightly every year. Therefore, if you are in full-time employment and have a gross salary of at least EUR 59,400 (including vacation allowance, bonus, etc.), you have the option of remaining in the statutory health insurance scheme or switching to private health insurance. In this case, you should seek the advice of a qualified insurance broker.
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Incoming insurance is travel insurance cover for Germany and Europe, because overseas visitors to these areas require travel insurance cover that meets the requirements of the European Union in order to obtain their visa. The following people can take out incoming insurance:
- Students and language students
- Visiting researchers
- Business travelers
- Private individuals
- Other visitor groups
Incoming insurance is suitable for almost all overseas citizens, who intend to stay in Berlin for a longer period of time. You must be aged under 75 and only be travelling abroad temporarily. In addition, you must not be subject to statutory health and long-term care insurance regulations (e.g. by starting a job requiring social security cover). Depending on the provider, the insurance is valid for up to five years.
OUR TIP: if you wish to enter Germany or even apply for a visa at a German embassy in your home country and are not yet covered by statutory German or private health insurance, it is beneficial to present evidence of previous health insurance cover – preferably in the form of a previous insurance policy for the last three years. This evidence can be of the following type: overseas statutory health insurance, overseas private health insurance, EU insurance, EEA insurance. This evidence will facilitate your acceptance into one of the above-mentioned health insurance schemes.
Residence permits & health insurance
If you intend to travel to Berlin from overseas, you can only join the statutory health insurance scheme under certain conditions – for example, if you are seeking a work permit or entering as a student or visiting professor. Basically, prospective overseas employees can use three different kinds of residence permit to support their application:
- EU Blue Card
- Qualified employment (gross salary of at least EUR 53,600 per annum, for natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, physicians and IT specialists, full-time employment with a gross annual salary of at least EUR 41,808 is sufficient)
- Jobseeker (valid for up to six months)
We have summarized the main residence permits and their possible uses for health insurance cover.
|Residence permit / purpose of stay||Health insurance||More information|
|EU Blue Card § 19a of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Statutory or private health insurance||Private health insurance is dependent on a gross salary of EUR 59,400 per annum|
|Qualified employment § 18 of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Statutory or private health insurance||Private health insurance is dependent on a gross salary of EUR 59,400 per annum|
|Jobseeker § 18c of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance||-|
|Self-employed § 21 of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance or private health insurance or voluntary statutory health insurance||Dependent on the length of stay|
|Research § 20 of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance or private health insurance or statutory health insurance||Dependent on residence status and income|
|Study/ PhD § 16 (1) of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance or private health insurance or statutory health insurance||-|
|University application § 16 (1a) of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance||-|
|Internship § 17 of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance||-|
|Recognition of overseas professional qualifications (§ 17a of the Residence Act (AufenthG))||Incoming insurance or private health insurance or voluntary statutory health insurance||Incoming insurance factored into waiting period, then dependent on the role|
|Language student § 17 of the Residence Act (AufenthG)||Incoming insurance or statutory health insurance||-|
|Settlement permit for highly-qualified persons (§ 19 of the Residence Act (AufenthG))||Statutory or private health insurance||Dependent on residence status and income|
|Settlement permit (§ 9 of the Residence Act (AufenthG))||Statutory or private health insurance||Dependent on residence status and income|
Social insurance number for the employer
Once you are employed in a Berlin company, you are required to contribute to social insurance (called Sozialversicherung in German). Your employer requires your social insurance number for that purpose. Your social insurance number is the same as your pension insurance number. In most cases, it is easy to find this number on your payslips from your previous employer. If you are unsure, please contact the German Pension Insurance office or your insurance provider and ask for assistance.
If you do not yet have a social insurance number, you can apply for one from the German Pension Insurance or your health insurance provider. It takes one to four weeks to process your application. You will then receive your social insurance number as well as your social insurance card by mail.