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What to Know About Health Insurance in Germany for Unemployed People

What to Know About Health Insurance in Germany for Unemployed People titlecard

Do you know what health insurance options you have in Germany if you become unemployed? Health insurance in Germany for unemployed people can be a complex and confusing topic, especially if you are an expat or have private health insurance.

This blog explores the German health insurance system, covering public and private insurance differences, costs, requirements, and specific providers for various needs.

Related article: 5 Best German Health Insurance in 2023

Can Unemployed Individuals Get Health Insurance in Germany?

Yes, unemployed individuals can get health insurance in Germany. Health insurance is mandatory in Germany, regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed.

According to Ottonova, if you receive unemployment benefit I (ALG I), you are automatically covered by public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV), even if you were previously privately insured.

It is also possible to be privately insured even during the period of unemployment. When unemployed, submit a notice of exemption from public health insurance to the employment agency within two weeks.

However, it is important to note that it is illegal to be uninsured if you reside in Germany.

The German health insurance system ensures that everyone has health insurance coverage through public health insurance or private health insurance companies. This ensures that individuals can access healthcare and nursing care as needed regardless of employment status.

Unemployment benefits and private health insurance options are available to individuals, and premiums are typically paid monthly.

Related article: Private Health Insurance in Germany Costs: How Much To Expect?

What Are Your Healthcare Insurance Options In Germany?

Doctor holding clipboard with Health insurance

In Germany, the healthcare system offers several insurance options for individuals, including those unemployed. Germany offers public health insurance (GKV) and private health insurance (PKV) as its two primary healthcare coverage options.

Let’s explore these options and their specific considerations for unemployed individuals:

1. Public Health Insurance (GKV):

  • Public health insurance is a fundamental component of the German healthcare system.
  • If you are unemployed and receive unemployment benefit I (ALG I), you are automatically covered by public health insurance.
  • Public insurance provides comprehensive coverage, and contributions are based on your income, typically around a specific percentage of your gross salary.
  • It is an affordable option for most people, including those who have become unemployed, and it ensures access to a wide range of healthcare services.

A Review About Public Health Insurance in Germany

In a forum post, expats living in Germany shared their experiences with healthcare, hospital visits, emergencies, finding a doctor, and buying health insurance.

One expat noted that public health insurance is mandatory in Germany and is a good option for those who require basic medical care. Another expat recommended Techniker Krankenkasse as a good public health insurance provider.

Cost of Public Insurance in Germany

According to visaguide.world, the cost of public health insurance in Germany is typically based on a percentage of an individual’s income. It is set at 14.6% to 15.6% as of 2023, depending on your salary.

This percentage is shared between you and your employer, but if you are self-employed, you cover the entire cost alone. The specific costs may vary depending on the individual’s insurance company and circumstances.

Based on a report by simplegermany.com, public health insurance expenses in Germany vary depending on your employment status. Employees typically pay approximately 300 to 400 euros monthly. This is a bit cheaper than private insurance options.

However, for self-employed individuals and freelancers, the monthly cost is around 600 to 800 euros. Students may pay around 80 to 150 euros monthly unless they qualify for free coverage through their parents.

Related article: How To Switch From Private To Public Health Insurance in Germany?

2. Private Health Insurance (PKV):

  • Contrary to public health insurance, it is possible to be privately insured even during unemployment.
  • To opt for private health insurance, you must submit a notice of exemption from compulsory public health insurance to the employment agency within two weeks of becoming unemployed.
  • Private health insurance offers more personalized plans and may include additional benefits, but it tends to be more expensive, particularly for older individuals.

Review Regarding Private Health Insurance in Germany

According to a forum post on ExpatExcange.com, expats living in Germany shared their experiences with healthcare, hospital visits, emergencies, finding a doctor, and buying health insurance.

One expat noted that private health insurance is a better option for those who are young and healthy or know they are only spending a limited amount of time in Germany.

Another expat recommended researching the options available and the advantages and disadvantages offered by public and private insurance, respectively.

Cost of Private Health Insurance

According to HousingAnywhere.com, the cost of private health insurance in Germany can be as low as €400 and as high as €700 monthly. The contribution depends on personal characteristics like age, medical history, and scope of coverage.

Private health insurance gives you more extensive medical coverage, additional services, access to premium healthcare, flexibility, and customization. However, not everyone is eligible for private health insurance in Germany.

Enrollment in private health insurance is for self-employed, civil servants, or those earning over €66,600 annually.

Also read: Insurance in Germany: Feather Review

Important Considerations for Unemployed Individuals

For unemployed individuals, there are several important considerations:

  • Suppose you are already privately insured and become unemployed. In that case, you may have the option to continue your private insurance, but you must act quickly and provide the necessary notice of exemption.
  • Eligible for unemployment benefits (ALG I)? You’ll shift to public health insurance automatically, ensuring continued access to essential healthcare during long-term unemployment.
  • For long-term unemployment, carefully assess insurance needs. Public health insurance is cost-effective, while private insurance, especially for older individuals, may become expensive.
  • When navigating German healthcare, consult an independent broker for guidance. They assist in deciding between public and private insurance, aligning options with your needs and budget.

It’s also important to note that Germany has agreements with other EU countries regarding healthcare coverage for their citizens. If you are an EU citizen, you may be able to maintain coverage from your home country’s insurance or transfer it to the German system, depending on your circumstances.

Related article: Cheapest Private and Public Health Insurance in Germany

My Thoughts About Health Insurance in Germany

In my opinion, obtaining health insurance in Germany can be a manageable process, but its ease depends on your situation. If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits (ALG I), enrolling in public health insurance (GKV) is straightforward as it’s automatic.

However, transitioning to private health insurance (PKV) during unemployment necessitates submitting an exemption notice to the employment agency within two weeks. The ease of this transition varies depending on factors like income and age.

Public insurance tends to be simpler, while private insurance can be more complex and costly, especially for older individuals. Your circumstances play a significant role in determining the ease of getting insurance.

Check this review: Insurance in Germany: Lemonade

How About the Contribution Payments When You’re Unemployed?

Health insurance form with calculator and credit card

When you’re unemployed in Germany, financing your health insurance through statutory public health insurance is a shared responsibility. Typically, both the insured individual and their employer contribute to the costs.

However, the government steps in to cover these contributions for unemployed individuals. This means that if you’re receiving unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld) or other forms of social assistance, the state takes care of your health insurance expenses.

Consequently, the financial burden is lifted from your pocket, ensuring that you can maintain essential health insurance coverage. This applies to both German citizens and EU citizens, making public health insurance an accessible option, regardless of your age or health condition.

Related article: DR-WALTER Health Insurance: All You Need To Know

How Much Do You Need to Pay?

According to visaguide.world, for younger individuals (under 30 years old), monthly premiums for private health insurance typically start around €100. Depending on the desired coverage level and individual circumstances, they can go up to €300 or more.

For individuals between 30 and 50, monthly premiums may range from €200 to €500 or more, depending on factors such as health condition, coverage level, and insurance provider

How Do Unemployed People Get Health Insurance in Germany?

laptop with employer health insurance

In Germany, health insurance is mandatory for all residents, including unemployed individuals.

There are two main types of health insurance in Germany: statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) and private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PKV).

Unemployed people typically can obtain health insurance through the statutory health insurance system.

Here’s how unemployed people can get health insurance in Germany:

1. Register with the Employment Agency (Arbeitsagentur)

If you are currently unemployed in Germany and need health insurance, the first crucial step is to register with the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit). This registration is a mandatory requirement for accessing various social benefits, which includes health insurance coverage.

The Employment Agency is your gateway to the German healthcare system, providing you with necessary healthcare coverage. Whether you opt for public or private health insurance, this initial registration is a fundamental prerequisite.

It is particularly significant if you are eligible for unemployment benefit II. Remember, registering with the Employment Agency is your initial link to a health insurer or insurance broker when you are privately insured.

2. Eligibility for Statutory Health Insurance (GKV)

If you are unemployed in Germany, understanding your health insurance options is crucial. In most cases, individuals in this situation are eligible for statutory health insurance (GKV), the predominant form of health coverage. GKV is administered by non-profit health insurance funds called Krankenkassen.

Generally speaking, it offers comprehensive medical aid and is affordable, with monthly contributions based on your income. Pre-existing conditions do not impact your eligibility, making it accessible for many, including EU citizens living in Germany.

The vast majority opt for public health insurance, ensuring access to quality healthcare without the complexities of the private system, particularly in major cities. For free advice, consult your local health insurance provider.

3. Choose a Health Insurance Fund (Krankenkasse)

As an unemployed individual in Germany, once you’re eligible for public health insurance, you can select a Krankenkasse (health insurance fund) from the options in your locality. These Krankenkassen, though governed by regulations, may differ in the benefits and services they provide.

Compare options and choose what aligns with your needs. Tailor your health insurance independently for personalized coverage, maintaining control over your policy without federal employment agency intervention.

4. Complete The Application

Once you’ve chosen a Krankenkasse for your public health insurance, completing a health insurance application with your selected provider is next. Guidance from the Employment Agency streamlines the process. This is particularly helpful for the recently unemployed or those seeking benefits.

This application step ensures that you establish a formal relationship with your chosen health insurance company, enabling you to access the essential coverage you need during your period of unemployment.

Whether short-term or long-term, the Federal Employment Agency can assist you in navigating this crucial step in securing your health insurance.

5. Receive Health Insurance Card

Upon successfully processing and approving your health insurance application in Germany, you will be issued a health insurance card, known as the Gesundheitskarte. This card is your key to accessing the German healthcare system.

The health insurance card allows access to medical services and prescriptions. Whether privately insured, covered privately, or part of the public system, it ensures healthcare access in Germany.

It’s an essential tool that facilitates your healthcare needs in the country, including for EU citizens and those navigating long-term unemployment.

Read this before getting public health insurance: German Public Health Insurance: All You Need To Know

How Many Unemployed People Are Insured in Germany?

As of August 2023, Statista said that Germany’s unemployment rate is 5.7%. Also, commonwealthfund.org reported that in Germany, health insurance coverage is mandatory, with approximately 86% of the population enrolled in statutory health insurance.

Unemployment insurance covers all employees, trainees, and individuals with disabilities. Those with children receive 67% of their net daily average wage, while those without children receive 60%.

According to europa.eu, the contribution rate for unemployment insurance is 2.4% of earned income, with a maximum gross wage cap of EUR 7,050 in West Germany and EUR 6,750 in East Germany per month. Specific statistics on the number of insured unemployed individuals are unavailable in the search results.

Germany’s health insurance system encompasses both statutory and private health insurance, with the former being compulsory for most residents. The statutory health insurance system plays a crucial role in ensuring comprehensive coverage, making healthcare accessible to most of the population.

What Happens When an Employee Gets Terminated by the Company?

When the company terminates an employee, their health insurance remains intact for one month. During this period, they continue to enjoy health insurance coverage through their employer’s plan or private insurance.

If the employee is eligible for and receiving unemployment benefits, they can extend their health insurance coverage. It’s essential for them to remain insured during this transitional phase.

They can choose private health insurance or maintain their public or private insurance, depending on their preferences and circumstances. Private health insurers and independent insurance brokers can guide them through the available options.

Health insurance contributions are a factor to consider when making this choice. This coverage ensures that individuals do not face health and nursing care insurance gaps.

Additionally, if the terminated employee possesses a European Health Insurance Card, it may provide access to healthcare services in other European countries, depending on the card’s validity.

Also read: How To Switch From Private To Public Health Insurance in Germany?

Final Thoughts About The Health Insurance in Germany for Unemployed

In conclusion, health insurance in Germany for unemployed people is a vital topic that requires careful consideration and planning. Whether you opt for public or private health insurance, you need to know the costs, benefits, and requirements involved.

The German health insurance system is designed to ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare, regardless of their employment status. However, it can also be complex and confusing, especially for expats and those who have private health insurance.

That’s why we recommend you consult an independent insurance broker or your local health insurance provider for guidance and advice.

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