Social insurance and health

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Germany has a very good healthcare system.

A comprehensive system of social security is in place to protect you in Germany: on your way to work, if you fall ill, or if you lose your job. Pension insurance will provide for you in old age, or will help you if you are no longer able to work.

Social security contributions are laid down by law and deducted directly from your salary. You will normally not have to pay them if you are on a scholarship. The exception is health insurance: everyone who lives in Germany must have health insurance. This gives you access to Germany’s very good healthcare system.

Having health insurance in Germany means that you need not worry if you get sick. Visits to a doctor, a stay in hospital and any necessary treatment will be paid for. And if you are an employee, you will continue to receive sick pay.

Up to a certain income, you will automatically be compulsorily insured in the statutory health insurance system (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) if you are an employee. The insurance also covers your family members. And as a compulsory member of the GKV you also have long-term care insurance cover.

Everyone else must take out insurance – normally private insurance – for themselves. In private health insurance (PKV), the degree of cover is based on the agreed premium. The basic premium is roughly comparable to the cover provided by the GKV. If you have private health insurance, you will additionally need to take out private long-term care cover.

  • Pension insurance: rehabilitation services, a pension in the event of reduced earning capacity, in old age and for your surviving dependents
  • Unemployment insurance: employment search services and supportive measures, unemployment benefit
  • Health insurance: medical treatment, medicines, hospital stay, sick pay
  • Accident insurance: costs of treatment and a pension in the event of an accident at work or work-related illness
  • Long-term care insurance: outpatient care, residential care, care aids


Good to know:

  • As an employee, you automatically have social insurance. If you are on a scholarship, you will have to take out at least health insurance yourself.
  • Around 90 percent of people in Germany are members in the statutory health insurance. All others are privately insured.
  • Premiums for statutory health insurance are shared equally between employers and employees.
  • If you are from an EU or EEA country or from Switzerland and are in Germany only temporarily, you will be covered for any essential medical treatment by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

More information

The German healthcare system: > Download PDF 

Comprehensive information about the German social insurance system: 

Information for international researchers: > Social Security

Health insurance information points via the German Liaison Office for Health Insurance Abroad: > Auskunftsstellen (only in German)