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Robert Heldt

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Health Insurance

Any person residing in Germany has the obligation to be financially protected in case of any illness. There are two different means of health insurance in Germany: public health insurance (a means of mutual aid) and private health insurance. You will have to decide which form of health insurance you will take immediately upon arrival. It is important to weigh up your decision accurately - a change from private to public health insurance is not readily possible.

Public health insurance

Public health insurance funds are solidarity funds. All members receive the same benefits but have to pay a different monthly fee depending on their income.  Each salary earner in Germany is obliged to enter into public health insurance if his/her income is of at least € 450.01 / month and is not higher than € 3,937.50 / month. People with no income, including students, are eligible to join the system for a small contribution if they have previously had insurance continuously for 12 months by a public health insurance provider or are subject to compulsory insurance

However, only students enrolled in Bachelor’s or Master’s program require insurance. If a person is a member of a public health insurance provider, then his children and spouse will be covered free of charge on this plan even if they have no income. Conversely a PhD student may be insured free of charge if he has a working spouse. 

Special provisions apply to lecturers and guest PhD students from EU countries. Public health insurance in other EU countries are also valid in Germany and can be demonstrated by a special certificate (E 128) if a European insurance card has not already been issued.  

In this respect, accepting a position as a researcher, lecturer or professor means you are therefore directly employed by the TU Ilmenau and you are compulsorily insured by the public insurance company of your choice in Germany.  There is therefore no need to do anything before you arrive in Ilmenau.

Private health insurance

Those individuals who are not able to or do not want to join a public health insurance fund, they must seek insurance with a private health insurance company. The rates of private health insurance differ according to age, risk of disease as well as the duration limit of the insurance. Private health insurance plans are only valid for the person that has requested the insurance.  Partners and children would need to seek their own health insurance. The ASC will be able to advise you as to which health insurance provider would be best suited to your situation. You are advised:  If you have the opportunity upon arrival in Germany, to enter into a public health insurance fund, you should take advantage of this opportunity. It may be difficult or impossible to later switch to a public health insurance provider.

Advantages & Disadvantages

In the following overview you will find advantages and disadvantages of public and private health insurance.

Public health insurance fundPrivate health insurance
Who is insured?Wage earners with an income of between €450 and €3937.50 per month. Volunteer members if they can prove “pre-existing-insurance”.

(Students in the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree).
Any person who is not compulsorily insured (eg. an employer)

What are the monthly costs?

For workers, including care and pension insurance, the rate is approximately 20% of income.

Students with no income are currently subject to an amount of € 80€ per month.

The monthly costs are within the scope of the insurance benefits and depend on stipulated personal contributions, regardless of income. Rates can be as little as € 50 per month for younger members.  PhD students could expect to pay around € 170 or more.

How are partners (who are not self-employed) and children insured?

Spouses and children can be members of the same health insurance plan free of charge and can enjoy the same protection as the paying member under family insurance.Each person must be individually insured and pay a contribution. The costs for children are higher than those of young adults because of increased health risks.
Who is allowed to terminate the contract?Membership of a public health insurance fund only ends when the member is no longer subject to compulsory insurance and the conditions for voluntary continued insurance are not met (pre-existing insurance period).  The insurance period is not determined by previously used services.  As long as the insurance is compulsory you can change between different funds, however the notice must be submitted at least 2 months prior to the change. This is only possible if the insurer has been a member for at least 18 months.The insurance contract may be terminated or the rates may be changed by either party.  This is especially in cases where an insured event occurs (eg. accident, serious illness) for a low-fee paying member and therefore the insurance company no longer wishes to continue the contract the same terms.
In private health insurance policies, so-called “pre-existing conditions” (i.e. chronic diseases) that have existed prior to the commencement of the insurance are usually not covered.  Often this applies to asthma or allergies, for example.
For whom is the insurance type applicable to?

PhD students who have a position at the TU Ilmenau at the same time, as well as foreign scholar with regular employment.

(Students in the Bachelor’s or Master’s program up until their 14th semester and under the age of 30. Students who are over the age of 30, but have already been a member of the GKV for at least 12 months)

Phd students with a scholarship

Visiting scientists who are not employed with the TU Ilmenau

(Students in a preparatory study program)


Please keep in  mind that certain rules may change and individual cases may be different.  For this reason it is always important to make inquiries about certain conditions but seek membership with the GKV (public health insurance fund) when in doubt.

In the ASC you will find the office hours for several public health insurance representatives on campus, where you will be able to inquire and check their services.  More information about their services and opening hours can be found here.

Recognition of foreign health insurance

Your insurance may not cover all costs in Germany. Before your stay, inquire as to exactly which services you are entitled to use in Germany. If you do not have insurance coverage at home, you must still be insured in Germany. For more information you should check with your insurance company. To see if your private insurance is recognized in Germany, please verify this with the public health insurance in Germany in order to get an exemption. For more information, contact Mr Heimbert Fleischer in the Department of Personnel Affairs.