Health Insurance for Foreign PhD Students and Researchers in Germany

Health insurance is mandatory if you want to go to Germany for your studies, either graduate or postgraduate studies!

There are two ways to approach the matter:

  • Through Statutory Health Insurance
  • Through Private Health Insurance

For every health insurance plan, you must first have an address in Germany!

Statutory Health Insurance

Statutory health insurance contributions are based on your gross income, which usually comes to 15.5% of your income. Half of the total percentage is covered by you while the other half by your employer.

Students use special insurance schemes with more favourable rates!

In statutory health insurance schemes, the German government sets premiums depending on whether you are an employee or a scholarship holder.

Your necessary hospital and non-hospital treatments, excluding dental treatments, will be covered. You have to present your health insurance card to your doctor or the hospital beforehand.

  • If you must go to the doctor, you will have to pay 10€ per quarter-year
  • For medicine, remedies, and glasses you only have to pay partially – around 5€ per prescription
  • If you have to stay in the hospital, you will have to pay 10€ per day

Other costs will be inapplicable! Your doctor or hospital bills will go straight to your insurance scheme.

You can also include your no-income spouse and children in your statutory health insurance scheme without any extra payments.

Contributions for 2016 are as follows:

 Health Insurance Health insurance premium per month
AOK Baden Württemberg 72,82 €
Barmer GEK 73,47 €
DAK – Gesundheit 76,07 €
KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse 68,17 €
TK – Techniker Krankenkasse 66,98 €
plus contributions for the care insurance: 15,25  € per month (or 16,87 € – per month for those aged 23 and above who have no children).

Private Health Insurance

The scope of services offered by private insurance companies is not regulated by the state, and it is usually more extensive than statutory health insurance.

Private health insurance schemes set the premiums themselves. The way they set their premiums are based on the risk to develop various health disorders, depending on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Health Condition

Chronic illnesses and pregnancy might be excluded, so check your contract carefully!

Private schemes do not offer health insurance cards! You should let your doctor know that you are private health insured. Then, the doctor will send the bill to your private health insurance company. Meanwhile, you have to pay the bill in advance and then present the bill to your insurance company so that you can get your money reimbursed.

Premiums and benefits vary from one company to the other; therefore, check your contract carefully beforehand. Make sure that the hospital treatment is fully covered!

Extra payments for remedies, medicine, and dental treatment may also vary! Furthermore, you cannot include your children and spouse in your private health insurance, as they have to pay for their own.

Private contributions tend to rise with age, and many of the privately insured try to return to statutory health insurance – but, nowadays this option is possible only up to 55-years-old. Otherwise, it is hard to get back to statutory health insurance schemes.

Supplemental Insurance

Supplemental Insurance is there to close gaps in health insurance. Supplemental insurance is, for example, nursing care insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance and alternative practitioner insurance.

The conclusion of supplemental insurance occurs with a private insurance company – independent of your income.

Exceptions from Statutory Health Insurance

Exceptions from statutory health insurance are:

  • Guest scientists, post-graduate students, scholarship holders (without a contract of employment)
  • Participants in German language courses or those who are attending study colleges
  • Students who are aged 30 and above or who have been studying for more than 14 semesters

Health Insurance for International Ph.D. Students/Candidates in Germany

Most Ph.D. students should take out private health insurance plans. As a foreigner, you cannot take out statutory health insurance if you have reached the age of 30 or have started the 14th semester of studies in Germany.

If you are in this category, then Mawista Science could be a great private health insurance for you!

Only a few of doctoral students are allowed to continue with more reasonable health insurance rates, as a gesture of goodwill, depending on whether they have reached their 30th birthday yet or their 14th semester (you should count from the first semester of studies).

Private health insurance providers offer a variety of services that are not covered by statutory health insurance providers. They can also offer coverage or reimbursements for private rooms, surgeons, dental implants, private doctors, and other medical possibilities.

The good thing about Ph.D. students is that their risk is not highly calculated as they are still young and in good health, therefore pay less for getting into private health insurance schemes. Otherwise, the monthly rate would have been automatically higher; as older persons are considered more risk-prone and possible to become chronically ill.

To enroll at a German university, you must first present the proof of current health insurance in Germany or an international health insurance scheme that is also accepted in Germany. Otherwise, enrollment is impossible!

International Doctoral Candidates Receiving Scholarships

Nowadays, scholarships are considered tax-free allowances or student salaries/earnings.  Therefore, Ph.D. students must all be health insured in Germany, and whether they get statutory or private health insurance also depends on the amount of money they earn annually or of their scholarship.

Ph.D. Candidates that receive scholarships or who are based in Germany to write their dissertation independently are not subject to compulsory insurance. These students are eligible either to become voluntary members of a public health insurance scheme or to take out any private health insurance.

Unemployed Ph.D. students that have prolonged their studies can take out private health insurance for the duration of their doctoral studies.

Doctoral Students as University Staff Members

Doctoral students, that are also University staff members, are insured as employees in the statutory health insurance schemes due to their annual payrolls being below the threshold that could have enabled private health insurance options.

The annual payroll limit changes from year to year and is determined by the ‘Beitragsbemessungsgrenze’. However, in 2015, the threshold was 54,900€.

Ph.D. academic staff working at the university and needing to pay social security fees are automatically covered by the statutory health insurance policies.

Ph.D. students employed as research assistants at a university or other higher education institutions are covered by social security – therefore, statutory health insurance is obligatory.


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