Scholarship holders and those with private funding

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Important Facts

  • In Germany, health insurance is mandatory from the first day onward of your stay. Proof of health insurance is required to obtain a visa or a residence permit. 
  • No matter which health insurance you choose for your stay, you will ALWAYS need a travel health insurance for travelling and the first weeks of your visit. Your home insurance may end the moment you start your journey and your new health insurance provider will only cover needs afters your arrival. When you choose a travel provider, make sure that your travel health insurance plan can be cancelled any time after your journey.
  • There are two types of health insurance, statutory and private.
    We also distinguish between two types of private health insurance: substitutive and basic (emergencies) coverage.
  • Since March 2024 most scholarship holders and self-funded researchers have access to statutory health insurance. For access requirements see the section “voluntary statutory insurance”.
  • In contrast to statutory health insurance, many private health insurance policies only cover acute care. Chronic or pre-existing conditions or preventive check-up often are not covered. In addition, there are often waiting periods for coverage during pregnancy and for childbirth.
  • Choosing a private health insurance provider may make you ineligible for later coverage under statutory health insurance.
  • Contact your personal support team if you have any questions, particularly if you will be coming with your family.
The voluntary statutory insurance (freiwillige gesetzliche Krankenversicherung)

It is possible to become a voluntary member of the statutory health insurance if: 

  • You have a visa or residence permit as researcher (§18d, Section 1, Residence Act) and become a member within three months after arrival.
  • Your scholarship or own financed first or new stay in Germany starts on or later than March 1st 2024.

It may be possible, independently of your arrival date, when: 

  • You have previously been a member in another European or EWR statutory health insurance or in a country which has a social security agreement with Germany including health insurance (check with your countries’ social security authorities).  
  • You are under 30 years old and plan to enroll at the University (student insurance or Krankenversicherung der Studenten KVdS). However, this does usually not apply to doctoral candidates. Still the statutory health insurances are obligated by law to provide advice regarding membership so contact them to make sure what applies to you.
  • Ukrainian citizens get access depending on their residence status. 

Important facts:

  • The membership fee is calculated based on your financial resources available (roughly 20%) starting with a minimum of about 200 € monthly. 
  • Voluntary statutory health insurance can be more expensive than private health insurance, but it provides sufficient coverage and does not exclude pre-existing conditions or require waiting times.
  • Family membership: all family members under 18 years and married partners who do not have their own income will be insured with the same contribution.  
  • If you qualify for it, it is strongly recommended to consider this option, especially if your family is accompanying you.  
  • Contact your personal support team if you have any questions or if you need more information concerning possible providers and local contact people.   
Using your home or travel insurance
  • If you have health insurance in your home country or you are insured via your home university you might be able to use this health insurance in Germany.
  • They only will be accepted if your stay lasts less than one year. 
  • Absolutely not recommended if you consider extending your stay.
  • Make sure that the travel health insurance can be cancelled, e.g. after you sign a work contract or choose a more comprehensive insurance.  
  • (!) Only sign for travel insurance one year if you are sure that your stay is not going to be extended! Otherwise check the following section.
  • They only apply when you do not have a work contract in Germany.
  • You should contact your health insurance company before coming to Germany in order to clear all coverage matters in advance.
  • Your health insurance company has to provide a confirmation of your insurance coverage
  • You will need a detailed list of services covered (translated into German or English) which confirms that the minimum required amounts are covered.
    These are:
    • medical treatment in the event of serious illness and accidents
    • 30.000 EURO (at least)
    • expenses for evacuation and repatriation in case of illness
    • expenses of accidents or death (unlimited in case of residence permit up to one year)
    • the home/travel insurance must cover the whole Schengen area
    • all coverage sums must be listed in EURO whenever possible
  • If your home insurance coverage does not fulfill Schengen requirements, you will need to take out a health insurance policy from a private provider.  
  • Please make sure that your insurance coverage begins on your first day in Germany and covers the whole period of your research stay.
  • Please note that all German Welcome Centers recommend to choose at least a so-called substitutive or comprehensive insurance for stays longer than three months.  
Private health insurance for stays longer than one year
  • If you are planning to do research in Germany and you do not qualify for / are not interested in statutory health insurance, you will need to purchase an insurance coverage from a private provider which will be accepted by the immigration office. Usually these are health insurances with a German registered office. International insurances will not be accepted.

  • All insurances have to start coverage with the first day of your scholarship at the very latest.  
    Please check the deadline for applying after the date of your arrival. 

  • Some insurance companies will cover your travels if purchased early enough. If you prefer to choose a local more comprehensive provider or sign for the voluntary statutory insurance after your arrival you can buy a travel health insurance which can be cancelled easily.

  • Some insurances turn automatically from a travel into a regular private insurance after you have entered Germany. Make sure to check how and when will this happen in order not to lose access to the statutory insurance.

Types of private insurance packages

Please note: Large insurance companies may offer all types under different product or package names.

“Basic” or emergencies health insurance 

  • They can be signed via e-mail and usually will be accepted by the immigration office in Tübingen.  
  • They can be canceled daily but sometimes it is problematic to extend the duration. It is recommended to take the longest possible duration if your stay here is not limited!  
  • The longest possible insurance period is usually five years. After that, you will have to seek general private health insurance at a much higher cost. 
  • Pre-existing or chronic illnesses are usually excluded. Not mentioning them in the application may cause the cancellation of the contract. 
  • Changing providers is usually not possible during the same stay. A change may sometimes be possible when acquiring a new scholarship (not an extension!).  
  • You should make the choice of health insurance conscientiously. Many packages do not include basic coverage, such as vaccinations, dental treatments or routine checks, as well as liability and accident insurance.  
  • It is advisable to choose an insurance package including a liability and possibly also an accident insurance.   
  • Families: Unlike statutory insurance every member needs to be insured with his their own policy. The insurance will usually require the package to be the same for all members. 
  • For more information about possible providers, please contact your personal support
Substitutive or comprehensive health insurance

These insurances are more expensive than the emergencies insurance but offer more extensive coverage similar to that of the statutory health insurance, except for chronic or pre-existing conditions and that waiting times apply for some treatments.

  • There are waiting times for pregnancies and births!
  • Pre-existing and chronic illnesses are usually excluded or may require an additional fee. Nondisclosure in the application may cause cancellation of the contract.   
  • We always recommend taking the longest possible duration if your stay here is not limited! 
  • The longest possible insurance period is usually five years. After that, you will have to seek general private health insurance at a much higher cost. 
  • Please clarify questions about the insurance coverage conditions and benefits in writing directly with the provider. This is especially important if you have pre-existing conditions.  
    It is advisable to compare providers and contact their multilingual service to clear any doubts in writing before signing. 
  • Check with your personal support for more information concerning possible providers.
A few things to compare in private health insurances
  • Does your provider require a prior health check-up? 
  • What medical and dental procedures are covered (and which are excluded)? 
  • What is the cancellation policy if you have to leave the country earlier?  
  • It is advisable to sign up for the maximum allowable insurance period if there is a possibility that you might extend your stay. Most companies will allow you to cancel your policy if your plans change and you return home early, but if you become ill while you are in Germany, an application for extension of your coverage could be denied. 
  • Must the policy be purchased before entering Germany or can you use travel insurance for the first month? Purchase possible within which period after arrival? Each company has its own rules.  
  • How are doctor's bills handled? In general, with private health insurance you must pay any doctor's bills yourself and then apply for reimbursement. Read the conditions of your provider. 
    Please note: Even if your health insurance offers payment guarantees for plannable treatments such as non-emergency surgery, childbirth etc., a hospital or doctor‘s office might still reject your insurance company‘s payment guarantee and ask you for advance payment, e.g. if your health insurance provider is not located in Germany.  
    Please make sure to check on how things will be handled well in advance of the planned treatment. 
  • Is private liability insurance included in your tariff? If not, you will need to acquire it separately. 
  • Do age limitations apply, and are you eligible? 

Contact your personal support team if you have any questions or need more information of possible providers, particularly if you will be coming with your family.

(!) Remember that private health insurance may make you ineligible for later coverage under the statutory health insurance scheme except for certain cases, such as switching from a scholarship to an employment contract. 

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