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The German Health Care System - An overview about Health Insurances

If you wish to study in Germany you need health insurance. Without the insurance you will not be able to apply for student or language visa from your home country or be enrolled at the German university. You are obliged to insure yourself until you are 30 years old, or until your 14th study term. At worst case, if you do not have insurance you could be barred from studying. 

Many Studentenwerke(National Association for Student Affairs) have special offers for international students which, besides accommodation and meals, may also contain health insurance.Students taking part in language courses in preparation for their studies cannot get health insurance from a public health fund. In this case you must opt for private health insurance. Once the language course has been completed students who are younger than 30 can change to the public health insurance for the duration of their studies. 
The Deutsche Studentenwerk has made a general agreement with the UNION Versicherungsdienst to offer health insurances for foreign students.

Types of Health Insurances in Germany

In Germany, there are two parallel health insurance systems: Statutory and private health insurance

(a) State health insurance is run by German government. Most foreigners (and Germans as well) are obliged to take out state health insurance.

(b) Private health insurance can be chosen in some specific cases. It generally offers more extensive cover, but is not automatically an advantage for all cases.

Students enrolled at state-approved universities MUST apply for the Statutory health insurance. However, for visa applications from home country and preparation for the studies, the students are entitled to apply for the private health insurance. Students are offered special student insurance schemes with favourable rates.

Who is entitled to apply for the Private health insurance?

a. Students who are applying for studies in Germany from their home country: If you are applying for studies in your home country, then you need to apply for the private health insurance. This is one of the requirements so that you can be able to acquire the visa. Once you arrive in Germany and after registering at the University, then you are entitled to apply for the public health insurance.

b. Students currently enrolled at the university and are over 30 years or have been studying for more than 14 semesters: These category of students can continue to maintain their public health insurance but the premiums are double. Most of them prefer to change to the private health insurances.

c. Students attending the preparatory course (studienkolleg)

d. Students attending German language courses in preparation for studies

e. Au-pair and FSJ

Payment of medicines and treatments: If you're insured through the state system, you only pay a nominal fee for treatments and medicines as these are directly paid for by your insurance company. If privately insured, you pay doctor's fees and medicine costs and send receipts to your insurance company for reimbursement. Although this makes no difference in the long run, it might be important if you're short on cash.

Recognition of Foreign Health Insurances

When applying for the health insurance in your home country, please make sure that it is also recognised in Germany. The German Embassy in Nairobi has a very good overview of the conditions the insurance company needs to fulfill so that the insurance is recognised in Germany.
Please note: the following list of insurance companies only lists the Kenyan insurance companies which fulfill the Schengen requirements for medical insurance. The insurance can also be purchased from any other insurance company operating in any Schengen country if fulfilling these requirements.
DAAD insurance: The DAAD is offering an affordable combined health, accident and liability insurance for interns, students and researchers coming to Germany. The scholarship  supports foreign students, graduates and scientists as well as their accompanying family members who are funded or supported by  DAAD-programs,European Union programs or programs of one of the DAAD’s member universities/institutions.
Check the link for more details: DAAD Insurance

Overview of Public Health Insurances and the Premium Rates for Students

Here is a link and an overview of all public health insurances and the premium rates for students. Please note that some premiums are either nationwide(bundesweit) or region based (regional)

First Aid - An Illustrated Health Dictionary

Keen to know more about the health insurances in Germany? The Studentenwerk has compiled an illustrated Health Dictionary Information for Foreign students in Germany. (PDF 1,75 MB)

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