The best public and private German health insurance plans for expats

An independent review of public and private insurance plans, including expat insurance for visa applications.


This post was last updated on January 3, 2023
A stethoscope, a heart and a piggy bank
  • Employees have mandatory public health insurance unless they earn more than 66.600.- Euro per year in which case they can choose between statutory health insurance and private health insurance.
  • Self-employed and freelancers are free to choose public or private insurance but might not always get accepted for public health insurance.
  • Students can choose between public or private insurance.
  • Expat health insurance is an option if you need to have health insurance to apply for a visa or before you arrive in Germany.

Make sure you understand the difference between German public and private health insurance.

My recommendation is to go with public health insurance if you want to stay in Germany and earn less than 45.000.- EUR as a self-employed. Private insurance is a better option if you are young and healthy or if you know that you are only spending a limited amount of time in Germany. Self-employed who just arrived in Germany might be barred from entering public insurance.

I recommend signing up with private health insurance if you earn more than 45.000.- per year as self-employed or more than 66.600.- Euro as an employee, have a broker you can trust and are willing to look into contract details. The motivation to go with private health insurance should be better treatment options, not a cheaper price although good contracts can have both: better treatment and a better price than public insurance. However, a cheap initial price for private insurance or a bad contract can backfire with higher costs later in life or in case of an emergency.

The best public health insurers

None of them offer official English support but inofficially many agents do speak English.

Statutory health insurance costs between 14.6% and 15.5% of your income. There are slight regional differences. AOK is recommended for families living in the Baden-Würtemberg source. *Click here for an English AOK signup page.

You probably want to go with the public health insurer that has the best support because they all cost more or less the same and offer roughly the same services. Use *Check24 (German language) to compare public insurers.

The winner is Techniker Krankenkasse

I recommend Techniker Krankenkasse as the best public health insurance for employees, self-employed and students.

Techniker Krankenkasse offers the best mix of price and service and is leading the score in many tests source. Techniker Krankenkasse is the largest German public health insurer and covers one-eight of the German population with over 10.5 million members source.

My first doctor as well as my current employer in Berlin recommended Techniker Krankenkasse and my family has been with them ever since. We had to deal with them when our children were born and had some accidents and hospital stays in the meantime and there was never any issue. They covered most of our medical bills without hassle.

Techniker Krankenkasse is an old-school insurer. Part of the communication and document downloads can be done online through their member area. They have an English website.

All the forms and papers as well as the online member area are in German only. You always have the option to do the paperwork in their brick-and-mortar agencies where somebody might speak English. Their quick and efficient call center offers English support.

You can *sign up for Techniker Krankenkasse in a few minutes using this English form.

Extended travel insurance coverage for Techniker Krankenkasse members

You can live very well in Germany with the basic Techniker Krankenkasse services. However, they do not cover health insurance for traveling abroad, especially outside the EU but they do partner with Envivas for additional coverage (English website).

You can get additional global travel health insurance at Envivas if you are a Techniker Krankenkasse member for as little as 12.- Euro per year.

Extra dental insurance in Germany

Public health insurance covers basic dentist fees. What is not included sometimes are yearly dental cleanings which can cost up to 150.- Euro, some implants and inlays. Extra dental insurance can easily save you money and is recommended for everybody who needs to see the dentist often. *Feather dental insurance is starting at 9.- Euro per month and their sign-up form and support are in English.

The best private health insurance plans

Finding the best private health insurance plan can be tricky. Plans are hard to compare and there is no best one size fits all solution. This is why you should use an independent broker to buy private health insurance. Make sure you pick an independent broker who does not work for one company but can pick among many insurers.

*Feather and B-protected are recommended and independent English-speaking insurance brokers source source. I also highly recommend a call with Berlin-based *Alexander Kühne (direct link to his scheduling tool) if you want a personalized and independent consultation from a broker with many years of experience.

You can use big German comparison websites like *Tarifcheck to compare private health insurance prices.

I do not recommend private health insurance for students as public health insurance for students is very affordable. I encourage students to *sign up with Techniker Krankenkasse.

Expat health insurance

Expat health insurers are companies that offer individual insurance plans which are not part of the official German public and private health insurance system.

You can use expat health insurance to apply for any German residence permit like Bluecard, artist visa, student visa, freelance visa, job seeker visa or work visa but it is not recommended to use expat health insurance for too long source.

Nobody might want to cover you if you overstayed on expat health insurance and you might have trouble getting into the official healthcare system. Use expat healthcare only as the last way out if you need a health insurance confirmation for the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). Change from expat insurance to public or private health insurance as quickly as possible.

As a Student, expat health insurance is not necessarily cheaper than public health insurance.

List of recommended expath health insurers and brokers

  • *Allianz Care is a health insurer and can be used for visas if you rather go with a big insurance company. The Allianz Care sign-up webpage is in English.

  • *Feather is an independent broker that can advise you about expat health insurance. Feather has very good ratings source and English support.

Summary: how to find the best German health insurance as a foreigner

Make sure you understand the difference between German public and private health insurance.

Public health insurance

I recommend *signing up online with the biggest public health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse via Feather. Techniker Krankenkasse is a no-brainer for statutory health insurance in Germany for anybody earning less than 45.000.- EUR, for most employees and students.

Private or expat health insurance

Use a broker like *Feather to find out which private insurance plan fits best or whether you rather need to go with *expat insurance to apply for a visa.

*Alexander Kühne is an independent broker with many years of experience who probably can create a very good personalized offer for you.

You can use also *Tarifcheck to compare private health insurance prices.

Watch more guidesSubscribe to my YouTube channel

Newsletter

Receive important updates related to living in Germany directly into your inbox.

We send around 1 email a month.


You may unsubscribe and delete your data at any time using the link in our newsletter or by contacting us. We only use your email to send our newsletter. By clicking the button above you agree that we submit your email address to sendinblue where it is saved for the purpose of sending newsletter emails.

More guides for you

You might also be interested in