Last Updated on by Talita
Moving to Germany for the purpose of changing your life? Is knowing about health insurance in this different country something that worries you? Then read on to learn all the information you need to stay safe in case you need medical care!
Many concerns go through our minds when it comes to precautions before moving to a new country – getting a house, looking for jobs, understanding how the country works, buying airline tickets, learning a different language…
Something that people sometimes forget is that worrying about health insurance is just as important as all of the above.
Being considered one of the countries with the best quality of life, Germany has many opportunities for those who choose to live there, both for jobs and for leisure.
The country is not hectic and has a very strong economy, which makes Germany a rich place with great security. It is for these and many other reasons that expatriates choose to live there.
In addition to talking about some alternatives for international health insurance for expatriates in Germany, we will first comment on what Germany’s health care system is like, the differences between travel and expatriate insurance, which of the various coverages you will need, and other information.
(Be sure to read to the end to be aware of the types of German visas and how you can start living or working in Germany!)
How does the health system work in Germany?
In Germany there is a public healthcare system, but it only covers treatments and services such as immunizations, dental examinations, and prescriptions. Therefore, there is a network of state and private health plans responsible for other medical needs.
As one of the oldest healthcare systems in the world, it is mandatory for all residents to have a health plan that covers at least in-patient, out-patient and pregnancy treatment, and if a person cannot afford these costs, the government pays for them itself through social assistance.
To access health care services under the public system, known as gesetzliche krankenversicherung (or GKV), you need only register with a local municipality and receive a salary of up to $5,800.
There are pros and cons to this healthcare system. It is well developed, has a fee based on your income, and does not require a medical referral to specialists.
On the other hand, if the patient needs overnight care, he or she will need to pay extra fees even for food, and many plans do not cover this. Also, some private insurances only accept applicants who have lived in Germany for at least two years, which can make life difficult for some expatriates.
Do expats need health insurance in Germany?
Yes, if you wish to spend more than 90 days in Germany, regardless of your reasons, you will need to provide proof of health insurance when you apply for your visa.
So if you are planning to move to the country. We recommend you to insure yourself with one of the insurances I will recommend below 🙂
Bureaucracies and obligations can be annoying sometimes, but having an international health insurance plan gives you much more peace of mind. Even more if you consider that you’ll be in a completely different country, with a completely different culture, laws and language.
That is why, having international health coverage will make you much safer for any situation that you are not expecting or emergencies. Besides security, international plans have other benefits, which I will mention below.
As an immigrant in Germany, should I get an international health insurance plan like the ones recommended in the list below? Or should I get a national plan?
This is a choice that varies from person to person, as it can change depending on your medical needs and the coverages you need to have in your plan during your days in Germany.
International health plans should meet your coverage requirements in Germany. If you choose one, be sure to check with the German government embassy what the minimum insurance requirements are for staying in the country.
As I have never lived in Germany, I am unable to recommend or talk about the national plans that are available.
With that in mind, here are some of the reasons why you might prefer to opt for international health insurance instead of public coverage:
- Most likely international health insurance will have cheaper monthly fees;
- You can choose how long your plan will last;
- With international health insurance, you can cancel or extend whenever you want;
- International insurance offers coverage in other countries, not just in one country (that is why it is considered “international”).
Who do these international health insurance policies cover?
All international health insurance companies listed just below are for citizens living in Germany as workers, immigrants, expatriates or students from the following home countries:
- European Union (Portugal, France, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Sweden)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland)
- New Zealand
- In addition to citizens of other countries
In addition to operating for expatriates/immigrants living in Germany, these companies also offer services for residents living in:
- Europe (European Union and United Kingdom);
- And any other country in the world!
Because they are international plans, they can be used by people of any nationality and anywhere in the world, because they have worldwide coverage!
Why can’t I get travel insurance when I move to Germany? What is the difference between travel insurance and expatriate insurance?
Travel insurance is a must for any trip, as it not only covers medical emergencies, but general problems on your trip, such as flight cancellations.
It should be noted that travel insurance is not ideal for expatriates and immigrants, because although you can apply for longer-term travel insurance, it is only for those who want a temporary stay in the country and not for those who intend to stay long term.
In addition, travel insurance does not usually meet the needs required by law for living in Germany.
Ultimately, you will need to choose a health insurance plan that specifically covers expats. This is where the list below will help you.
What are the 7 best health insurances for expatriates and immigrants in Germany?
Finding the right health insurance plan can be a real headache. That’s why we’ve prepared a comparison table of the best companies. That way you’ll be able to see the pros and cons of each one more quickly, and decide which one is best for you!
After the table, there are longer descriptions of each company, with their benefits, plans and more!
Besides all of the above, the best advice I can give you is: get a quote from each company before you make your final decision. It may take a little longer, but in the end you will save a lot of money!
Attention: This article and table are made for informational purposes as the information contained here is subject to changes and updates.
In my opinion, the best international health insurance companies for expats are:
- Aetna (Allianz)
- Global Underwriters
- Foyer Global Health
Cigna is a company founded in the United States that has a big role in Europe. It is a great choice when it comes to international health insurance.
Having been in business for more than 60 years, the company has great recognition for its insurance and worldwide they have more than 170 million customers. My partner, Nikki, has already purchased a health insurance plan from Cigna to meet the requirements for validating her residence card in Sweden.
Cigna is a company with a wide range of plans to choose from, including expatriate-specific plans (which work if you are moving to Germany!), as well as individual and family plans).
As stated, there are individual and family plans for those moving to Germany. One advantage of Cigna’s plans is that you have the ability to add benefits to your plan according to your specific needs and the type of medical care you need covered.
You can choose between the Silver, Platinum or Gold plan, which has coverage in over 200 countries and territories around the world.
If you are looking for a cheaper insurance plan for Germany, the best alternative is Cigna’s Close Care plan. This plan particularly is the most affordable that Cigna has, because the coverage is only for your home country and the country where you intend to reside (Germany in this case).
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- 24-hour service, every day of the week
- Flexibility should you need to make changes to your plan
- Coverage for COVID-19 and PCR testing
- No registration is required to get a quote
- It has its own digital system to find hospitals and clinics near you
- Cigna, for the most part, pays health care providers directly, without the need for a reimbursement system
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- Some plans don’t cover maternity
Another company recognized for its international insurance is IMG. It has over 25 years of experience and 3 subsidiaries around the world.
IMG also has several types of plans to choose from, either individual or for entire families, expatriates or travelers. You will find that they have the possibility of plans with long stays of 1 year or more, but also short-term travel plans.
Their website is intuitive and easy to navigate, with filters for dates, plan length, destination and more that make it easy to search. In addition to these filters, you can add your personal details such as age and specific needs for the best coverage.
IMG will then provide you with a detailed quote that allows you to compare plan options and coverage so you are free to choose what is best.
But when hiring your service, be aware of the details of each plan, as some do not have coverage for all age groups and not all of their plans cover Covid-19 needs.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- Customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Flexibility plans for different client profiles
- More than 17,000 physicians for support
Disadvantages of signing up for an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- Some plans do not cover COVID-19
- No coverage for people 75+ years old
Now Health International is committed to delivering an effective, affordable, and easily accessible service, as its name suggests. The company places a strong emphasis on fostering a close customer relationship. They provide clear and efficient plan information and promptly address any potential inquiries through their dedicated customer support team.
The primary objective of Now Health plans is to cater to the daily hurdles encountered by individuals living abroad by offering guidance and ensuring access to top-notch healthcare services worldwide.
Table of Contents
Pros of an international health insurance plan with Now Health:
- Customized plans according to your needs
- Clear information and excellent customer service team
- Provides coverage in 194 countries and territories
- Plans with high coverage routine maternity coverage
Cons of an international health insurance plan with Now Health:
- You must wait a 12-month grace period to use maternity coverage.
- In some procedures, it is necessary to use the company’s reimbursement system, which means that you would have to pay for your care initially
4. Aetna (acquired by Allianz)
Aetna is a multiple award winner and a reference in the field of international insurance. If you are looking for security and credibility for your choice of insurance before your move to Germany, Aetna is a company to consider.
They do not have a diversity of plans, but they do have flexibilities that let you add complementary coverage (such as dental care). Plans include coverage up to $5 million, depending on the case.
You can choose between family or individual plans, and may include coverage for repatriation and medical evacuation.
As an expatriate, I recommend the Aetna Pioneer. This plan has basic coverage up to $1.75 million. Just fill out a short form on the website to see an accurate quote and get detailed information about the policies available.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Aetna:
- They cover maternity
- Has an app that summarizes information and easy location of services and providers
- Short, medium and long term travel plans
- 24/7 care
- Pre-travel assistance to help with questions, such as vaccinations and regular use medications
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Aetna
- Low plan diversity
- Higher prices than other companies on the list
SafetyWing is a popular company that has recognition in insurance for digital nomads, as it offers health insurance plans specifically for remote workers and businesses, expatriates, and digital nomads.
One of SafetyWing’s biggest advantages is that their policies are a little more accessible and easier to understand than those of other companies. They cover, for free, children from 2 to 10 years old if their guardians lock in a plan.
Each plan has a specific cost that depends on the age of the person who signs up. The cheapest plan does not cover pre-existing health conditions, however they have coverage up to $250,000. But you are free to add pre-existing condition coverage separately if needed.
What I like most about SafetyWing is that the company offers 30 days of free coverage in your home country for every 90 days that you use their plans abroad, such as in Germany.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with SafetyWing:
- Modern website, easy access to information and intuitive
- Customer service every day of the week, 24 hours a day
- 30 days of free coverage in your home country for every 90 days of coverage used abroad
- Coverage for COVID-19 and treatment recommended by medical specialists
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Safety Wing:
- The plans are not as comprehensive and tend to have less overall coverage than some of the other options on this list;
- Website prices do not include fees and taxes that you may have to pay
Global Underwriters is another company with a high popularity when it comes to international health insurance. They have programs that cater to immigrants, students, digital nomads, and expatriates.
For someone who is moving to Germany, I recommend the Diplomat Long Term or the Diplomat International Plan. Both have comprehensive coverage and generally include everything an expatriate will need in their new country.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwriters:
- Up to $1 million of medical coverage in the two plans mentioned above, and $1 million in coverage in case of accidental death or dismemberment
- All day, every day of the week client assistance
- The above plans have emergency dental coverage, medical evacuations, and repatriation of remains
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwritres:
- Diplomat Long Term does not insure travelers in Iran, Afghanistan and Cuba
- Diplomat International does not cover COVID-19
- Global Underwriters does not cover residents of Australia, Iran, South Dakota, Maryland and New York
Foyer Global Health is a major provider of international health insurance plans for travelers, expatriates, digital nomads and immigrants.
It is a company with a large diversity of plans, probably the largest you will find on the market, and it is also a reliable company (part of the larger European Foyer Group).
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- The plans provide coverage for consultations, dental treatments and even surgeries
- 24/7 online or by phone
- Pre-travel service for vaccinations and first aid kit preparation
- Coverage is available for evacuation and repatriation
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- The coverage limits are not clear
For over 20 years in business, GeoBlue has offered insurance plans with international health coverage.
But GeoBlue only insures citizens and residents of the United States. So if you are not a U.S. citizen or resident moving to Germany, you can ignore this option.
GeoBlue has health plans for different traveler profiles, including immigrants. Xplorer Essential is the plan I recommend the most, since it is made for stays that took a long time, with unlimited coverage.
If you are looking for a plan for a shorter stay, try the Voyager program. It is very simple, you just need to fill out a form or contact a broker to get a quote and receive more detailed information about the plans.
Advantages of a health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Feature application such as telemedicine
- 24-hour customer service, seven days a week
- Some plans have coverage for existing medical conditions
- All plans have unlimited coverage
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Only available to US residents or US citizens
- Low plan flexibility
- You need to submit a form or contact a broker for information or a quote for plans
Types of German Visa to work, study or live in Germany
If you are a citizen of one of the Schengen Space countries, no visa is required for stays of less than 90 days. For longer periods, you will need, as of November 2023, to apply for an ETIAS, a visa waiver program for those wishing to enter the territory of the European Union.
If you do not qualify as a citizen of any European Union country, you will need a visa to enter Germany. The tourist visa is for less than 90 days and, after this period, the visa needs to be another, especially if you wish to be an expatriate in the country.
The most used visas in Germany are:
- Family member or partner visa of a German citizen: made for family members of people who are citizens of Germany and want to live in the country with them;
- Job Seeker Visa: used by people who want to go to Germany to look for a job opportunity, it is not necessary to have a contract with a company beforehand;
- Student Visa: for people who want to study in German institutions or learn the language;
- Work Visa: made for those who already have a job in Germany and are moving because of that;
- Business Visa: ideal for those who wish to go to the country to do business in a period of 90 days to six months;
- Airport Transit Visa: required for citizens of some countries who are going to stopover in Germany;
- Visitor Scientist Visa: made for researchers going to Germany for research purposes or invited by educational institutions;
- Medical Treatment Visa: for people with different illnesses and medical demands who go to Germany seeking treatment;
- Visa for Fairs and Exhibitions: only for people who go to Germany in order to participate in some kind of fair or exhibition;
- Visa for Cultural, Sports and Religious Events: this visa is for people who wish to go to Germany for cultural events or as part of a film crew.
Depending on which country you come from, the requirements for getting a German visa may change, but some documents are universal, for any visa and citizen of any country.
The universal documents are: an application form, an up-to-date passport, photo, health insurance, an itinerary of your trip including return flight receipts and proof of what you want to do in Germany, and a financial statement to prove that you can afford to stay in Germany.
To apply, you need to have a German embassy check the documents required for the type of visa you will be applying for. You then need to answer a form and make an appointment with the German embassy in your current country of residence. Finally, you will pay a fee and make an appointment at the embassy to present all the organized documents.
The time to process a German visa usually takes between 10 to 15 working days.
In a nutshell…
These are the 7 best health insurance companies for expats and immigrants moving to Germany:
- Now Health
- Aetna (Allianz)
- Global Underwriters
- Foyer Global Health
Moving to a new country, even if it is a dream, is hard… I hope this article has taken all your doubts away and made the process at least a little bit easier! If you still have questions about insurance for your move to Germany (or any other foreign country), leave a comment and I will answer as soon as possible!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!