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 March 3, 2021
A stethoscope, a heart and a piggy bank

This guide helps you decide which German health insurance plan is the best for you.

These are your options:

  • Employees have mandatory public health insurance unless they earn more than 64.350.- Euro per year in which case they can choose between public 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 your arrival in Germany.

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

Our recommendation is to go with public health insurance if you want to stay in Germany. Private insurance is a better option if you are young, healthy or if you know that you are only spending a limited amout of time in Germany. Private health insurance usually becomes expensive once you get older. Self-employed who just arrived in Germany might be barred from entering public insurance.

The best public health insurers

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

Public health insurance costs between 14.6% and 15.5% of your income. AOK has slightly lower fees than other insurers source.

You probably want to go with the public health insurer who has the best support because they all cost more or less the same and offer roughly the same services. Use Check24 to compare public insurers and register online.

The winner is Techniker Krankenkasse

We recommend Techniker Krankenkasse (English website) 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, 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 trough 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 to Techniker Krankenkasse in a few minutes using this online 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.

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. B-protected and SBK are recommended English speaking insurance brokers source source.

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

You can use the big German comparison websites like Tarifcheck or Check24 to compare private health insurance plans.

According to Stiftung Warentest, an independent test website, some of the best private health insurance plans are coming from Signal Iduna source.

The best private health insurance plans are:

Expat health insurance

Expat health insurers are companies which 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 imigration office (Ausländerbehörde). Change from expat insurance to public or private health insurance as quick as possible.

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

List of recommended expath health insurers and brokers

  • Feather has very good ratings source and they have English support.

  • Start-up Ottonova offers an app based expat health insurance which can be used for visa applications. They have 24/7 English support and good ratings source.

  • Allianz Care can be used for visas if you rather go with a big insurance company.

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

We recommend to sign up with the biggest public health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse. Compare public insurance plans with Check24 Krankenkassenvergleich.

Private or expat health insurance

Use a broker like Feather for private insurance or if you need expat insurance to apply for a visa. You can use Check24 Private Krankenversicherung Vergleich if you rather compare private plans online.

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