Having health insurance is mandatory in Germany, and it costs money. What to do if you are, for some reason, unemployed? Usually, unemployed people don’t have to worry about health insurance, but only if they receive unemployment benefits.
An unemployed person staying or living in Germany must have valid health insurance. You can choose between public and private coverage depending on your situation and preferences. The following options are available: private insurance, expat insurance, public insurance, and voluntary public insurance.
Everyone must have health insurance in Germany, including unemployed people, students, freelancers, and even visitors. So what should you know about health insurance as a nonworking person or someone without an income?
How unemployed people are insured in Germany?
An unemployed has different options for getting health insurance in Germany. It varies depending on the current and past status in Germany. Several insurance options are available to someone without a job or income (or at least a registered one).
People who previously had a job in Germany don’t have to pay for the insurance; they will be covered by the state instead.
In fact, the Employment Agency is paying for the contributions. Even if you receive unemployment benefits (Hartz 4), you will continue to be covered by statutory health insurance, and it will be paid.
EU and non-EU citizens
The situation with health insurance in Germany also depends on your country of origin. Citizens of the EU states are able to receive public health insurance even when they’re not employed. However, only in the case of existing statutory health insurance in their home country.
For example, if you are from Belgium, you can get official confirmation that you are a member of Belgian statutory health insurance.
With that, you will receive an EHIC card In Germany, which gives you access to the same public healthcare as residents here do have.
Moreover, German public insurance providers will 100% accept you as a member without a job or income.
Nonetheless, unemployed non-EU citizens will need to get private health insurance in Germany, with some exceptions.
Ottonova on the other hand, is the best choice for foreign employees, expats, freelancers, and self-employed.
If you were employed in Germany
As mentioned, employed people in Germany don’t have to worry about their health insurance – the state will cover it.
Nevertheless, foreigners must have lived, worked, and paid social contributions in the country for at least 12 months in the last 30 months. They can apply for unemployment benefits after fulfilling these criteria.
When an employee gets terminated by the company
Anyone who losses their job will be covered by public health insurance. Yet employees with private health insurance should clear it with their providers. You must inform the health insurance company about your unemployment as soon as possible.
When an employee quits the job
However, these rules don’t apply to someone who quits their job. When a person leaves their job voluntarily, they automatically enter the blocking period without entitlement to unemployment benefits.
This period is only one month hence costs for health insurance will be covered from the second month. Moreover, people with compulsory public insurance don’t have to pay even for this month; only employees with voluntary public insurance will be responsible for the policy.
Only employees with an annual income of over 64,350 EUR can select between compulsory or voluntary public insurance. Everyone with income under this amount has mandatory coverage.
How much do unemployed people pay for health insurance?
People who are eligible* for unemployment benefits don’t pay for health insurance. Non-working or individuals without an income pay around 180 EUR per month for public insurance.
This is a minimum contribution fixed by public providers; the cost of private insurance might be different.
* You have paid social contributions in the country for at least 12 months in the last 30 months.
About health insurance in Germany
Anyone unfamiliar with German health insurance and its system should indeed get informed. Firstly, as a foreigner, you want to get your insurance sorted even before coming to Germany.
Non-EU citizens will need to provide an insurance policy already with the visa application.
The main thing you need to know is that there are two types of health insurance in Germany: public and private.
Each of them has advantages and disadvantages. Someone applying for a visa can only sign for a private one and then switch to the public provider later in Germany.
What should a person with income or an employee know when choosing between public and private providers?
- The monthly cost of public health insurance will depend on your income (14,6% of it).
- The monthly cost of private health insurance is based on your age and health condition; the amount is fixed and doesn’t depend on how much you make.
Health insurance for people staying in Germany
If you have found yourself not having any occupation such as a job, studies, volunteering, and others, you still need to have health insurance while staying in Germany.
How to find an appropriate solution, and if there is one? And what to do if you don’t have any income (at least an official one)?
As we mentioned, everyone must have insurance. In fact, even tourists on a tourist visa need health insurance in Germany.
The coverage of the policy you choose must be at least 30,000 EUR. Usually, a person without any occupation can opt for private insurance. Statutory insurance is simply unavailable for them since you need to prove a legitimate reason for staying in Germany.
EU/EEA residents staying in Germany short-term
Citizens or residents of other EU/EEA countries and Switzerland with valid insurance in their country are eligible for access to German health care on a temporary basis.
However, this isn’t a solution for German health insurance. If you stay longer than 90 days, get a residency in Germany, or are no longer unemployed, you must sign for proper policy coverage.
Private insurance for the unemployed in Germany
Unemployed people can sign up for private insurance while staying in Germany. Hence, you will have a fixed amount to pay every month.
When visiting a doctor in Germany, you will pay yourself, and later get reimbursed by the insurance company. Indeed, large and expensive treatments are paid for by the provider directly.
Private health insurance is available to a broader range of people than a public one. It’s especially preferable among international students.
If an insured person buys medicine according to prescriptions, a private provider will reimburse the total amount of the purchase.
With public insurance, you will have to pay 10% of any prescription yourself, but only to a maximum of 10 EUR and a minimum of 5 EUR per medicament.
Who can sign up for private insurance in Germany?
- Job Seekers
- Language students
- Adult education students
- Guest scientists
- People with income under 450 EUR per month
- Freelances, self-employed, business owners
- Employees in German companies with income over 64,350 EUR
- Civil servants
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Ottonova offers great personalized packages & English speaking support for:
- Business owners
- Civil servants
For freelancers, it’s worth knowing that up to 80% of the cost of private healthcare insurance is tax-deductible. Meaning you can claim expenses back.
Health Insurance for Expats
Expat, or international health insurance, is commonly used when traveling or living abroad. In most cases, it will cover you for up to 5 years.
Expat health insurance plans cover major medical expenses and medical emergencies that require hospitalization but also the costs related to preventative and outpatient care such as regular doctor visits.
You can customize your policy depending on the range of treatments you want to be included, coverage limits, and levels.
Like with private insurance, patients pay for treatments themselves and get reimbursed by the insurance provider afterward.
Who can sign up for expat health insurance?
- People intended to stay temporarily in Germany (up to 5 years)
- International employees, freelancers, digital nomads, business owners, self-employed
Expat insurance has a few disadvantages compared to public and private health insurance:
Public insurance for the unemployed in Germany
Germany has more than 200 public health insurance providers, and some of them should suit you. However, as an unemployed and unoccupied in Germany, not every company will accept you.
If you receive unemployment benefits, there is no need to worry – the state will take care of the insurance. In all other cases, a foreigner should get voluntary health insurance when willing to be insured by a public provider.
For example, I have had a voluntary policy with AOK, and it was a good experience. They offer voluntary insurance coverage, which is comparable to normal statutory insurance but costs a bit more than student insurance, for example. I paid the standard price: around 180 EUR per month without having any income.
For application, I will recommend using Feather. They provide insurance from AOK at zero additional costs but many other perks, such as 24/7 English-speaking support.
Yet, if you have income, your price for the policy will be different. The contribution is calculated fairly according to income. It might range from 350 EUR to 750 EUR per month, depending on the estimated worldwide earnings.
Nonetheless, not everyone will be entitled to volunteer insurance coverage in Germany; the company will prove your documents.
As a voluntarily insured member of the AOK, you receive the same benefits as with regular public insurance. Also, you don’t have to claim back expenses when visiting a doctor, this insurance will cover it directly.
What is covered by the voluntary insurance policy?
- in-patient (hospital) care
- out-patient care from a general practitioner or medical specialist (such as a cardiologist)
- prescription drugs
- pregnancy care
- basic dental care
- employee sick note
- sick pay
Who can sign up for voluntary health insurance?
Voluntary insurance with the AOK is open to many people. This includes:
- civil servants
- some other groups of people
The insurance provider will prove the conditions and your situation.
Freelancers in Germany with Income from abroad
What should one do about health insurance when earning income as a freelancer and not having a job in Germany?
Freelancers must pay for insurance according to their income unless some other company insures them in another country (especially in the EU).
Private insurance can be a better choice for freelancers; it won’t depend on their income. The monthly policy price is calculated based on age & health conditions.
Public health insurance will cost you between 17,9% and 20,6% of your total income.
Back to the public insurance for freelancers:
- Freelancers registered in Germany pay between 17,9% and 20,6% of their income for health insurance
- If income exceeds 58,050 EUR per year, a freelancer pays around 895 EUR per month
- If income is less than 12,740 EUR per year, a freelancer pays about 180 EUR per month
Will the state pay for private health insurance?
What to do if you lose your job but are signed with private insurance?
To be able to receive health insurance funded by the state, former employees must:
- Be entitled to unemployment benefits in Germany – have paid social contributions for 12 months in the last 30 months
- Change private insurance provider to the public as soon as possible after the termination