In Germany, health insurance coverage is mandatory for all students. We recommend to have a travel health insurance when arriving in Germany. During the first weeks of your arrival we will then support you in finding a suitable health insurance cover for you.
The subsequent pages will give you an idea about the German health system and procedures after your arrival as well as useful information on local emergency services, doctors and hospitals.
The German Health Service
Germany has a well-developed and socially supported health service system. In terms of health care, Germany is one of the most advanced and well equipped countries in the world, with highly qualified doctors and specialists to treat the patients. Everyone insured is free to choose their own doctor or dentist from amongst the registered health service practitioners. The health insurance scheme pays the costs for treatment by a doctor or a dentist as well as for hospital treatment and many other kinds of treatment and preventive measures.
Statuary Health Insurance Scheme
In the statutory health insurance scheme / gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV) patients have to pay a certain small fee for medicines, medication, medical aids and other items themselves. There are, however, certain costs that are not covered or are covered partially, e.g. costs for dental work, including crown and orthodontic work.
Germany’s main statuary health insurance companies are:
- AOK (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse)
- BEK (Barmer Ersatzkasse)
- DAK (Deutsche Angestelltenkasse)
- TK (Techniker Krankenkasse)
Private Health Insurance Scheme
Private health insurance is not accessible to everyone. In order to be insured privately, you need to meet certain minimum income requirements or be self-employed.
The level of your insurance contribution does not depend on your income but on a risk assessment determined by age, gender, and medical history. As a consequence, contributions for private health insurance are usually higher, but in return you get more medical services.
Your choice of health insurance depends on two important factors: your country of origin and your age.
Country of Origin
If you are an EU citizen, you need not take a German medical insurance. However, while still at home, you should obtain proof of health insurance. On your arrival in Germany, you must present this proof of insurance to a German health insurance company such as the AOK or the TK (both situated on campus) which will then certify that you are insured. Please note that it is not possible to enrol at university without being insured! Applicants from EFTA countries (currently Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) follow the same procedure. However, please contact your health insurance company and ask for the services offered in Germany and how charges will be paid for if you need medical treatment.
Applicants who are not citizens of an EU country should get insured in Germany. Whether you can take out private or national insurance depends on your age:
You can take a statuary health insurance cover if you meet the following requirements: you have to be below the age of 30, and you must be enrolled at a university, but not for more than 14 semesters.
You need to choose a health insurance company within four weeks after your arrival in Germany.
If you are above the age of 30 or have studied for more than 14 semesters, you cannot take out national health insurance. You will need to look for a private company, and you will pay more for your insurance. For further information, you can also refer to the related DAAD-Website.
The ISGS-service comprises counselling and assistance to obtain the right and best health insurance - if desired.
Whether you want to make use of our service or look for a health insurance by yourself, please consider the following aspects in any case:
- Decide which kind of health insurance you need and which service you want to get, (taking into account your age and nationality).
- For students who get a scholarship: Please check if your scholarship includes a health insurance.
- For EU citizens: Please ask your health insurance company in your home country about their services in Germany. Please make sure to get the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) if you want to stay with your insurance company.
- At the beginning of your stay in Germany, you already need to have enough money to pay the first contribution to your health insurance.
Do not forget that health insurance is a prerequisite for enrollment and residence permit! Therefore, it is important for you to contact the ISGS immediately upon arrival in Germany.
Medicines / Drugs, Dressing / Bandaging, Health Aids
Patients requiring prescription-only medicines / drugs, dressing / bandages, health aids (e.g., insteps, arch-supports) will have to pay 10 percent of the costs themselves in the future. The minimum extra charge is EUR 5, the maximum is EUR 10 per prescription.
Example: If a patient gets medicine worth EUR 80, the extra charge is EUR 8. However, if an ointment costs EUR 7, the extra charge is not 70 cents, but rather EUR 5. While very expensive medicine for EUR 150 will not cost the patient EUR 15, but only EUR 10. Subsidies for vision and optical aids (glasses/contact lenses) will only be available for children under 18 years of age and for insured patients with serious sight impairments. The optician or health insurance company will advise on how much the subsidy is.
Patients seeking in-patient treatment (hospital or rehab clinic) must immediately present their insurance card when they go for treatment. The health insurance company will pay the costs for in-patient treatment in the general care category in a hospital/clinic which has been licensed by the statutory health insurance company. Patients are free to choose among all licensed hospitals / clinics. But: Insured persons who are 18 years of age or over must pay a daily private contribution of EUR 10 from the first day of in-patient treatment (including the release day). However, this extra charge has been limited to 28 days per calendar year (maximum extra charge of EUR 280 per calendar year for in-patient treatment).
Therapies and Domestic Nursing Care
Patients personally have to pay 10 percent of the costs for treatments such as physiotherapy, ergo therapy, speech therapy, or massages. In addition, they pay EUR 10 per prescription. This means: If a doctor prescribes six therapy units, the patient pays 10 percent of the treatment costs and EUR 10 for the prescription.
Important: Before you decide to have any specific type of dental prosthetic treatment, please make sure that your dentist provides you with a treatment and cost schedule and that you contact your health insurance company for advice beforehand.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
In case of pregnancy or childbirth, the health insurance company will pay the following costs:
- medical care (e.g., provided by ante-natal check-ups) and care provided by a midwife,
- provision of medicines / drugs,
- dressing / bandages, health aids,
- childbirth in a maternity clinic / ward (general care category)
Accompanying Spouse and Children
As a rule, family members (spouse without own income or children) can be insured with the statutory health insurance company at no additional costs.
Note: Make sure that you keep all receipts!
Doctors, chemists / pharmacists, therapists, and clinics must issue receipts for any extra charges. Anybody who reaches his or her personal financial limit will receive an appropriate certificate from the health insurance company and then needs to pay no more extra charges for the rest of the year. Please contact your health insurance company to find out what your personal financial limit is (calculated on the basis of your gross income). Some health insurance companies have special forms to make it easier to document the extra charges which have been paid. Please ask your health insurance company for such a form and the details.
All the rules mentioned in this chapter are valid for the statutory health insurance only. Private health insurances have different regulations.
Apart from general medical practitioners, there are also specialists. You should go to a general practitioner first in order to be transferred to a specialist. In most cases, though not all, you will have to make an appointment in advance. Especially with dentists and specialists, this may take several weeks.
If you are in acute pain, fever or have had an accident, you have to be treated immediately or at least get an appointment the same day. You will find the names of doctors according to the field of specialization on the telephone directory or in the Yellow Pages. It is advisable to ask friends and acquaintances which doctors they recommend.
In Germany, there are state, non-profit making (denominational), and private hospitals. In every large town there is a hospital where you can be treated as an out-patient, too. Out-patient clinics are, however, not as common in Germany as in some other countries.
Hospitals are divided into various specialist clinics, such as Dermatology, Dental Clinic, Psychiatric Clinic, etc. If you are sent to hospital, the health insurance scheme will cover the costs of accommodation, care, and examinations; although you will have to contribute a small amount during the first fourteen days. You will be accommodated in a double room or small ward with three or more beds; single rooms and private telephones costing extra.
If you need urgent medical treatment during the weekend or on public holidays, you can either call the emergency services or go to a hospital's out-patient department. In Kaiserslautern, you can go to the Westpfalz Klinikum.
If you urgently need a doctor during the night, during the weekends, or on public holidays, the emergency medical services will assist you. You can find the addresses of the doctors on call in the daily newspaper under the heading “Emergency Medical Service” / Ärztlicher Notdienst or Ärztlicher Bereitschaftsdienst. For any medical emergency call 112 for 24-hour service. Alternatively, you can call a doctor; the answering machine will inform you which doctors are currently on call.
! EMERGENCY NUMBERS !
- Police: 110
- Fire brigade & Emergency: 112
- Hospital Kaiserslautern: 0631 - 203 - 1240
Pharmacy: Under the heading Apotheken-Notdienst you can find out where you can get medicines in an emergency outside of normal opening hours. There is at least one pharmacy which is open 24 hours a day. The name of this pharmacy is on a list that can be found on the door of every pharmacy. This list changes every week.
Ambulance: In case of accidents or sudden illness where a patient cannot be transported by car, you should call the emergency number 112for an ambulance. If you are on a highway or a major road, follow the arrows on the white kilometer markers or posts to the next emergency call box.
Hospital / Krankenhaus
Phone: 0631 203-0
During the weekdays, you can go to the hospital beyond the normal working hours, i.e., from 7:00 in the evenings – till 8:00 in the mornings in case of an emergency or severe injuries.
You will have to pay a practice / surgery charge of EUR 10, unless you are referred by your practitioner.
In Germany, you can get medicines only at a pharmacy. Unlike many other countries, the pharmacy/ Apotheke has a different symbol (not a green cross) and is not a chemist's shop or a drugstore ( this is called a Drogerie which only sells vitamin tablets or perhaps simple cough mixtures).
In the Apotheke, you can obtain three categories of medicines: on prescription only, only for sale at dispensing pharmacy, and freely available. The German Medical Preparations Act is very strict and therefore some medicines that might be freely available in your country (antibiotics, for example) always have to be prescribed by a doctor here. Medicines that are on prescription will be given strictly only to the patient referred in the prescription by a doctor!
Initially, students with private health insurance (generally those over 30 years of age) have to pay for their medicines themselves and then submit the receipts to the health insurance company for a refund.
In general, pharmacies are open from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm; some of them close for lunch. On Wednesday afternoons some pharmacies remain closed.
If you are suffering from a minor pain, a cold, or a headache, you do not necessarily need to go to a doctor; you can ask the highly qualified personnel at the pharmacy for advice. But in cases of serious illness there is no substitute for the doctor's diagnosis and treatment!
A pharmacy in the University neighborhood/Apotheke in der Nähe der Uni
Phone: 0631 12100
Mon – Fri 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Sat 8:30 am– 1:00 pm