The German health care system


The healthcare system in Germany is highly-rated, with the Legatum Prosperity Index ranking it at 12th in the world based on basic physical and mental health, health infrastructure and preventative care. Access to healthcare in Germany is so fast that they don’t even collect data on waiting times. Being a dual-healthcare system means it is made up of both compulsory and private healthcare.

Compulsory coverage

Citizens and expat residents are automatically covered by public health insurance in Germany if you earn below €56,250 per year. You are typically taxed 7% of your annual salary to cover your healthcare contributions, which is then matched by your employer. The contributions cannot be claimed back regardless of whether you have required care or not.

Public health insurance provides cover for the following areas:  

  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
  • Physician services
  • Mental health care
  • Dental care
  • Optometry
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription drugs
  • Medical aids, rehabilitation
  • Hospice and palliative care
  • Dental checkups
  • Basic immunizations

Private health insurance

The people who usually opt for private insurance are young people earning a high salary. Insurance companies are likely to offer them an extensive range of services and low premiums due to their age. The government regulates the private sector to ensure overcharging does not take place and that people are not taken advantage of financially if their income decreases. Private health insurance offers everything public insurance does with additional benefits such as:

  • Access to better amenities
  • Shorter waiting times
  • Faster service
  • Copayment for GP services (fixed price)

It is extremely important to have your health insurance in place before settling into Germany to save you from medical costs should you get sick. See our section on health insurance for details or for more up-to-date news, check out our expat health blog at 

Further reading

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Other comments

  • Moya St Leger, 22 March 2010 Reply


    For the traveller to Germany from the UK, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should provide the visitor with medical treatment free at the point of access because it is in Britain. However, unlike in Spain few German doctors are aware of the EHIC and the British visitor will be reqrired to pay up front in Germany. Costs are high. On return to Britain, the British visitor can then apply to the NHS for repayment of the costs on production of receipts after the visit. This takes time but works.

    The level of recognition of the EHIC in countries across the EU differs greatly and is in urgent need of 'harmonization'