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How To Switch From Private To Public Health Insurance in Germany?

How To Switch From Private To Public Health Insurance in Germany titleard

Are you an expat or international student in Germany, wondering how to switch from private to public health insurance in Germany? Making this transition can be a crucial decision, and it’s essential to understand the process and your eligibility.

Switching from private to public health insurance involves the following steps:

  1. Checking your eligibility based on income, employment, or disability status.
  2. Notify your current private insurer and provide proof of new insurance.
  3. Choosing a public health insurer, applying, and waiting for confirmation.
  4. Optionally, reducing your income to meet public insurance criteria.
  5. Consider full-time employment for eligibility if you’re self-employed.

Navigate health insurance in Germany with our guide. Whether employed, self-employed, a student, or retiree, find insights into private and statutory options and discover reliable providers. Maximize your advantage with this valuable resource.

Also read: Is Healthcare Free in Germany?

Why Switch to Public Health Insurance in Germany?

Woman talking to her doctor

Public health insurance, often referred to as statutory health insurance (SHI) in Germany, is pivotal in ensuring that most of the population has access to quality healthcare services.

As of the latest data from visaguide.world, approximately 88% of the population is covered by statutory health insurance, with the remaining 10% covered by private health insurance or other insurance schemes. This significant prevalence of public health insurance reflects the importance and popularity of the system in the country.

German public health insurance operates on a shared funding model. Employers and employees contribute jointly. Self-employed individuals can opt for statutory or private health insurance from various providers.

According to data from destatis.de, there are 41 insurance companies offering private health insurance in Germany, adding a layer of flexibility for those who wish to opt for private coverage.

Why do Expats and International Students Consider Switching to Public Health Insurance in Germany?

Many expats and international students in Germany, particularly those who initially opt for private health insurance, later contemplate transitioning to the public health insurance system. Several factors contribute to this choice:


Public health insurance is cost-effective, with contributions shared between employers and employees. It’s affordable, especially for those with modest incomes. In contrast, private health insurance tends to be more expensive.

Coverage and Benefits

Germany’s public health insurance provides comprehensive coverage, offering access to a wide range of medical services. Standardized benefits, including essential healthcare, appeal to those needing regular medical attention.

Income Thresholds

Higher incomes may lead to more reasonable contributions to public health insurance than private premiums. This attracts expats and international students, securing higher-paying jobs to the public system.


Public health insurance allows for easy transition between public and private insurance, providing flexibility that expats and international students might find advantageous. This flexibility is especially valuable for those anticipating changes in their financial situation over time.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Holders of public health insurance are eligible for the European Health Insurance Card, which facilitates access to medical care in other European countries. This can be a valuable asset for those who travel or have plans to study or work in different EU member states.

Related article: Best German Health Insurance for International Students

Steps on How to Move From Private Health Insurance to Statutory Health Insurance in Germany

Happy woman checking insurance documents

Switching from private to public health insurance in Germany is possible under certain circumstances. Executing the transition properly is crucial to save time and avoid potential problems. Germany’s social health insurance system offers comprehensive coverage, including dental care, nursing care insurance, and mental health services.

To better help you, below are the steps when moving from private health insurance companies to public health insurance providers.

1. Check If You Are Eligible to Switch

Switching to public health insurance in Germany can be a wise choice for those who meet the eligibility criteria. It’s important to note that different public health insurance providers may have varying requirements.

Here’s how you can check if you are eligible to switch:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Public health insurance providers in Germany have specific eligibility criteria. According to germanpedia.com, employed individuals with a gross income below 66,600 euros (as of 2023) can switch from private to public health insurance.
  • Self-employed individuals seeking public health insurance must transition to an employment relationship.
  • Another eligible category includes individuals who become at least 50 percent severely disabled.

Required Documentation:

To switch to public health insurance, you will typically need the following documents and information:

  • Your passport or identity card
  • Visa or residence permit (if applicable)
  • Tax identification number (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
  • Social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer)
  • An employment contract or proof of income (if applicable)
  • Previous health insurance certificate or proof of cancellation (if applicable)
  • Bank account details
  • Marital status and family details (if applicable)

Providing accurate and up-to-date documentation is essential to facilitate the switching process. Public health insurance providers may request specific documents to verify your eligibility.

By switching to public health insurance, you can benefit from the comprehensive coverage and services the German public health system offers. Public health insurance ensures that your healthcare needs are met without the financial burden often associated with private krankenversicherung.

Private and public health insurance differ in regulations and coverage. When switching, research and compare services from various German health insurance companies.

Also read: German Public Health Insurance: All You Need To Know

2. Give Proper Notice

Providing proper notice when transitioning from private to public health insurance in Germany is essential for a seamless shift in health insurance coverage. This process ensures the continuity of health insurance coverage and compliance with legal requirements.

When switching, inform your current provider and provide proof of new insurance. Notice periods range from one to three months, varying by provider and plan type.

The proper notice allows the insurance company to process the termination efficiently and confirms the end of your private health insurance coverage. This is especially important for self-employed individuals or requiring specific services like dental care or nursing care insurance.

How to Terminate Your Private Insurance In Germany?

The process of terminating private health insurance in Germany may differ based on your insurance provider and individual circumstances. However, the following general steps are typically involved:

1. Review Your Insurance Policy

Before initiating the termination process, carefully reviewing your private health insurance policy is essential. Understanding the terms and conditions, including the notice period and any associated penalties or fees for early termination, is crucial.

2. Notify Your Insurance Provider

In writing, you must communicate your intention to terminate your private health insurance policy to your insurance company. The notice period can vary depending on the provider and policy type, usually one to three months.

3. Provide Proof of New Insurance

If you are switching to public health insurance or another private health insurance provider, you must provide evidence of your new insurance coverage to your current provider. This ensures that your coverage remains uninterrupted during the transition.

4. Receive Confirmation

Once your insurance provider receives your termination notice and any required documentation, they will send you a confirmation of the termination. This confirmation proves that your private health insurance policy has been properly terminated.

Smoothly transition from public to private health insurance in Germany by following these steps. Adhere to legal requirements for a seamless shift, whether self-employed or covered by a company plan.

Also read: DR-WALTER Health Insurance: All You Need To Know

3. Apply for Membership With The New Public German Health Insurance Provider

Switching to public health insurance in Germany is a prudent choice for several reasons, and the next step in this process is to apply for membership with a new provider. There are various ways to initiate your transition into the German public health insurance system.

1. Register at the local residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt)

Begin by registering at your residents’ registration office to obtain your social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). This number is essential as it is used to pay your insurance contributions, ensuring that you actively participate in the German health insurance system.

2. Research and select a public health insurance provider

Explore the available public health insurance providers to find the one that best suits your specific needs and preferences. This careful selection ensures that you receive the coverage that aligns with your requirements within the German healthcare system.

3. Submit your application

Once you have chosen your preferred public health insurance provider, you can submit your application using one of several convenient methods – in person, online, or by mail. This flexibility accommodates your preferences and circumstances.

4. Wait for confirmation

After submitting your application, patiently wait for confirmation from your chosen public health insurance provider. They will process your application and provide information regarding your coverage and contributions within the German public health insurance system.

Switching to Germany’s public health insurance provides universal coverage, benefiting those with pre-existing conditions. Regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, it ensures high-quality healthcare without discrimination.

In contrast to private health insurance, public insurance contributions are typically based on your gross salary, making the system fair and equitable. According to mercatus.org, the contribution rate is fixed at 14.6% of the gross income, with half of the contribution paid by the employer and the other half paid by the employee.

Choosing a public health insurance provider over an international insurance company may also provide more comprehensive coverage while minimizing costs. Moreover, supplementary private insurance is available for those seeking extra coverage beyond the basic public insurance.

4. Reduce Your Salary Below the Annual Limit

To switch from private to public health insurance in Germany, you may consider reducing your salary below the annual limit. However, it’s important to note that this step is optional and depends on the specific policies of the public health insurance provider.

German statutory health insurance, often referred to as public health insurance, is mandatory for employees whose gross salary is below €66,600 per year or €5,550 per month, according to howtogermany.com. If your salary falls within this range, you can choose public health insurance over private health insurance.

The state generally sets the insurance contribution for public health insurance at 14.6% of your gross salary, but it’s important to remember that there’s a salary cap of €58,050.

Additionally, health insurance funds may levy an additional contribution, ranging from 0.3% to 2.4%, depending on the specific German health insurance company, as highlighted by academics.com.

Relevant for self-employed and freelancers contemplating insurance changes. If your income meets statutory health insurance criteria, explore benefits from public health insurers.

5. Seek Out Full-time Employment

When considering how to switch from private to public health insurance in Germany, it’s important to note that to apply for public health insurance, you must have a full-time job.

If you are currently self-employed or working as a freelancer, you will need to seek out full-time employment to transition from the private health insurance system to the public one.

Choosing to switch to public health insurance is not an option while you still work freelance or self-employed.

This requirement underlines the importance of transitioning to full-time employment if you wish to access public health insurance benefits in Germany.

Public health insurers typically require individuals to be employed in full-time positions to qualify for coverage. This step is essential for those currently covered by private health insurance and considering switching to public or private insurance.

Related article: Health Insurance If You Are Unemployed in Germany

Cost Comparison of Public and Private Health Insurance Plans

Person comparing two health insurance plans

Do you need to transfer to public insurance companies or choose private health insurance instead? The answer depends on many factors, such as the cost involved.

The cost savings of public health insurance compared to private health insurers in Germany can be significant, particularly for individuals with lower or moderate incomes.

Let’s examine some data and real-life examples to illustrate the potential savings:

Public Health Insurance

In Germany, public health insurance is mandatory for employees with a gross salary below €66,600 per year (or €5,550 per month). The state typically determines the contribution to public health insurance which amounts to 14.6% of the gross salary, with a salary cap of €58,050.

Additionally, health insurance funds may levy an additional contribution ranging from 0.3% to 2.4%. For instance, if you earn €40,000 per year, your monthly contribution to public health insurance would be approximately €350.

Private Health Insurers

Private health insurance is an option for those with a gross income above €66,600 per year (or €5,550 per month). The cost of private health insurance is not income-based but rather depends on the individual’s risk profile.

Compared to public options, private health plans can be pricier and may not cover the whole family. For instance, a healthy 35-year-old non-smoker might expect to pay around €300-€400 per month.

Real-Life Examples

Based on the above data, switching from private to public health insurance can yield substantial cost savings, especially for individuals with lower or moderate income levels.

Here are some real-life examples of potential annual savings by switching to public health insurance based on income:

  • If you earn €40,000 per year, you can save around €3,000 annually by switching from private to public health insurance.
  • If you earn €50,000 per year, you can save approximately €4,000 annually by making the switch.
  • If your annual income is €60,000, you can save roughly €5,000 per year by opting for public health insurance.

It’s worth noting that the actual cost savings of public health insurance compared to a private health insurance plan may vary based on individual circumstances such as age, health status, and family situation.

Therefore, it is advisable to carefully consider the coverage options and services that align with your specific needs when deciding whether to switch health insurance providers in Germany.

Health Insurance in Germany Regulatory Insights

Stethoscope and health insurance form

Understanding the regulatory framework and government policies that shape the landscape of health insurance in Germany is crucial when evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of both public and private systems.

These regulations play a pivotal role in determining pricing, coverage, and the overall quality of healthcare services.

This section delves into the regulatory aspects that influence German health insurance options.

Public Health Insurance Regulation


  1. Universal Coverage: Public health insurance in Germany is mandated by law, ensuring that nearly everyone has access to essential healthcare services. This universal approach promotes equity and social inclusion, ensuring no one is left without medical care due to financial constraints.
  2. Standardized Benefits: Regulations ensure that the benefits offered by public health insurance providers are standardized. This means that policyholders can expect a consistent level of coverage, which simplifies the comparison of services across different providers.
  3. Contributions Based on Income: One of the standout features of public health insurance is the income-based contribution system. Contributions are calculated as a percentage of an individual’s gross salary, typically shared between employers and employees. This progressive system aims to maintain affordability for individuals with modest incomes.


  1. Limited Choice: While public insurance offers comprehensive coverage, it often restricts policyholders to specific healthcare providers and treatment options. Patients may have less choice in selecting their preferred doctors or hospitals.
  2. Waiting Times: Due to the large number of individuals covered by public insurance, there can be longer waiting times for certain medical procedures or specialist appointments.

Private Health Insurance Regulation


  1. Choice and Flexibility: Private health insurance in Germany provides policyholders with a wider range of choices regarding doctors, hospitals, and treatment options. This flexibility can be especially appealing for those who seek specialized care or prefer a particular healthcare provider.
  2. Higher Income Thresholds: Private insurance becomes an attractive option for higher-income individuals. Those earning above a certain threshold are not eligible for public insurance, making private insurance their primary choice.
  3. Additional Coverage: Private health insurance allows individuals to tailor their coverage to their needs. This often includes additional services, such as dental care, which may not be fully covered by public insurance.


  1. Costs: Private health insurance tends to be more expensive, particularly for younger and healthier individuals. The pricing depends on factors such as age and pre-existing medical conditions. It can become financially burdensome, especially for those with lower incomes.
  2. Limited Regulation: The private health insurance market is less regulated than its public counterpart. This can lead to disparities in the quality of services and transparency of pricing across different insurance companies.

In summary, the regulatory framework in Germany shapes the fundamental differences between public and private health insurance. Public insurance offers universal access, standardized benefits, and an income-based contribution system.

However, it may limit choice and lead to longer waiting times. On the other hand, private insurance offers more flexibility and additional coverage options, but often at a higher cost, especially for those with lower incomes.

Understanding these regulations is essential for individuals when making a decision that aligns with their unique healthcare needs and financial circumstances.

Also read: Private Health Insurance in Germany Costs: How Much To Expect?

Public vs. Private Health Insurance: Administrative Differences

Doctor checking life insurance form

Health insurance’s administrative and bureaucratic processes can significantly influence the overall user experience. Design choices in German health insurance impact policyholder experiences. This includes filing claims, receiving reimbursements, and accessing healthcare services.

Below, we’ll explore these processes in both systems and compare their efficiency and ease of use.

Public Health Insurance:

Claim Filing

Public health insurance providers in Germany have standardized claim filing processes. This means that for most medical services, the administrative burden on patients is relatively low.

In many cases, healthcare providers directly bill the insurance company for covered services, reducing the need for policyholders to file claims themselves. This simplifies the process for users as they don’t need to handle complex paperwork.


When patients need to pay for services upfront, they can apply for reimbursement from their public health insurance. The process for reimbursement is typically straightforward, and policyholders can expect timely payments.

Standardizing benefits in public insurance also means that the coverage details are clear and predictable, reducing disputes and claims-related bureaucracy.

Access to Healthcare Services

Public insurance policyholders usually have access to a broad network of healthcare providers, including general practitioners and specialists. The administrative ease of this system comes from the fact that users do not need to pre-authorize most treatments or coordinate care themselves.

The insurance system has established relationships with healthcare providers, streamlining access to medical services.

Private Health Insurance:

Claim Filing

Private health insurance in Germany often offers a more diverse range of coverage options. While this flexibility can be advantageous for users seeking specialized care, it can also complicate the claim filing process.

Policyholders may need to thoroughly review their coverage terms and file claims themselves, which can be administratively intensive.


Receiving reimbursements in the private health insurance system can sometimes be less straightforward than in the public system. The scope of coverage may vary significantly between policies, and policyholders might need to be diligent in documenting their expenses and submitting claims. This can create more complexity and bureaucracy for users.

Access to Healthcare Services

Private insurance often gives users a broader choice of healthcare providers, but this also means more responsibility for coordinating care. Patients may need to pre-authorize treatments or consult with their insurance provider before certain medical procedures, which can be administratively demanding.


In terms of administrative and bureaucratic aspects, public health insurance offers a more streamlined experience for users. The standardization of benefits, direct billing by providers, and clear coverage details simplify claim filing and reimbursement processes. The wide network of healthcare providers minimizes the need for patients to coordinate their care actively.

On the other hand, private health insurance can be more administratively complex due to the diversity of coverage options and the responsibility of filing claims and coordinating care. While the flexibility to choose providers may be an advantage, it also involves more administrative work for users.

Consider administrative aspects when choosing public or private health insurance. Align your decision with preferences, comfort, and willingness to navigate procedures.

Before-and-After Scenarios of Switching from Private to Public Health Insurance Scheme

Healthy person stretching

Let’s explore a couple of illustrative before-and-after scenarios to provide a clearer understanding of the transition from private to public health insurance in Germany. These scenarios are designed to help you visualize the potential improvements and challenges individuals may encounter as they make this significant change.

Scenario 1: The Self-Employed Professional

Before the Switch

Meet Sarah, a self-employed professional earning a decent income through her freelance work. She’s been maintaining private health insurance for years because she believed it offered her more comprehensive coverage.

However, as her business grew, her private health insurance premiums also increased, putting a strain on her budget. She was beginning to question whether the high costs were justified.

After the Switch to a Public Health Insurance Scheme

Sarah decided to explore public health insurance as a more cost-effective alternative. She qualifies for the transition based on her income level.

After switching, she found that her monthly contributions were significantly reduced. While her coverage remains comprehensive, her financial burden is notably lighter.

She has peace of mind knowing she can access quality healthcare services without breaking the bank.

Scenario 2: The International Student with Private Insurance

Before the Switch

Imagine David, an international student pursuing his studies in Germany. When he first arrived, he opted for private health insurance, believing it was a requirement for his visa.

However, he’s become aware of the cost disparities between private and public health insurance. He’s also heard from fellow students about the benefits of the public system, such as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which offers coverage in other European countries.

After the Switch

David decides to explore the option of switching to public health insurance. He learns that he meets the eligibility criteria as an international student with a limited income.

After making the switch, he experiences substantial cost savings and gains the advantage of the EHIC. This card allows him to access medical care when traveling within the EU, making his international student experience more affordable and convenient.

These scenarios are illustrative and may not reflect every individual’s situation. However, they show how the transition to public health insurance in Germany can lead to cost savings, improved financial stability, and enhanced coverage options, depending on individual circumstances.

Note: Real-life experiences may vary, so it’s crucial to carefully assess your own situation and eligibility criteria before making the switch.

Final Thoughts About How To Switch From Private To Public Health Insurance in Germany

In conclusion, switching from private to public health insurance in Germany is a decision that can significantly impact your healthcare coverage and financial well-being.

The transition offers potential cost savings, comprehensive benefits, and access to a vast network of healthcare providers, making it a viable choice for many individuals.

However, the eligibility criteria and specific circumstances can vary, so it’s essential to research and assess your options thoroughly.

If you want to know more about these companies and their products, click the links in the article for more information. By doing so, you will also help us keep this blog afloat.

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