Health & Insurance
Taking Your Health Seriously
We really hope you will stay happy and healthy during your time in Bavaria. However, sometimes emergencies happen – and when they do, it is good to be prepared! This is why the German government requires you to register with a health insurance provider before you can enrol at university. We will explain the different healthcare options available.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you can get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which covers your health insurance in Germany. As an EU student, you are regarded by law as still officially residing in your home country, even if you study in Germany. This means you can stay insured in your home country and pay contributions there if necessary. However, the EHIC card entitles you to all necessary statutory health care during your stay in Germany.
Please note that if you are not insured in your home country and cannot get an EHIC card for that reason, you have to get statutory health insurance with a German health insurance provider.
More information on EHIC
Statutory Health Insurance in Germany
It is mandatory in Germany that students under the age of 30 are registered with a statutory health insurance provider. Only a few exceptions apply, where students are allowed to take out private insurance. Most students choose statutory health care anyway, as it generally offers better value for money. And once you have taken out private health insurance, it can also be difficult to switch back to the statutory one.
There are a number of different statutory health insurance providers in Germany that you can choose from. Regardless of the company you sign up with, they will all charge you a standard student fee, which is currently around 70 Euros per month. Since the exact benefits and treatments covered by different health insurance providers vary, you should shop around for the best offers that meet your needs.
It is a good idea to sign up for statutory health insurance as soon as you enter the country, as you will need your health insurance documents to enrol at university.
Private Health Insurance in Germany
If you are a student over the age of 30, you can no longer enter the statutory healthcare system at student rates. You can sign up as “Freiwilliger Versicherter” (voluntarily insured) with a statutory healthcare provider, but your monthly contributions will be about twice as high as those of students under 30.
Signing up for private health insurance can be an alternative. The “Deutsches Studentenwerk” (umbrella organisation of German student services) has negotiated favourable conditions with a private health insurance company for students over 30.
Sometimes health insurance from private providers in your home country may also be accepted in Germany. Your insurance provider should be able to tell you if that is the case. If you want to remain in private health insurance, you need to obtain a letter of confirmation proving that you are exempt from statutory health insurance. Please note that once you have done this, you cannot change your insurance to the German statutory health care system throughout the rest of your studies.
Insurance for Language / Exchange Students
Students who are in Germany only for a short period, such as exchange students or students on short-term language-courses, cannot join the statutory health insurance scheme. It is recommended that these students take out travel health insurance in their home countries or sign up with a private German insurance provider for the duration of their stay.
Doctors, hospitals & pharmacies
Choosing a doctor
Do you have a headache, fever or generally feel unwell and need to see a doctor? Then your best bet is to start by seeing a general practitioner or “Hausarzt”. These doctors can recommend treatment for most common illnesses and will refer you to a specialist if required. If you already know that your illness needs to be treated by a specialist, such as a dermatologist, you can contact these specialists directly without seeing a general practitioner first.
You are generally free to choose any doctor or hospital in Germany you like, as long as they are registered with the panel of the German health insurance scheme. When searching for a suitable doctor, it is useful to ask friends for recommendations. You could also search online or look through your local yellow pages to find medical practices in your area. Whereas many doctors in Germany speak other languages, it is good to enquire beforehand if your consultation can be in English.
Making an appointment
Many general practitioners in Germany have an open door policy, meaning that patients can simply turn up to be treated. However, it’s strongly recommended that you make an appointment in person or by telephone before you go, because waiting times can be long. Sometimes you may have to wait a day or two to get an appointment. In an emergency, most doctors will be able to fit you in straight away though.
Drugs and Medication
Medicine is normally sold by pharmacies called “Apotheken” in German. Drug-dispensing laws are very strict in Germany. This means that many medicines that may be prescription-free in your home country (such as painkillers, for example) can only be purchased on prescription here. Statutory health insurance will cover the costs of most prescription drugs, but you may have to pay a small excess fee.
In an emergency
What do you do if you suddenly get ill at night, at the weekend or on a national holiday? Don’t worry! If your medical practice is closed, there are always emergency services and pharmacies available that can help you. Try calling your regular doctor first. If they are not available, there is usually a recorded message in place that refers you to the number for an emergency doctor. Alternatively, you could go straight to your nearest hospital or emergency room. Numbers for doctors and pharmacies on emergency call are usually also listed in your local paper, both online and in the print edition in a section called “Notdienst”. In case of a life-threatening emergency that requires urgent attention you can also call an ambulance by dialling 112.