Best Public Health Insurance In Germany

Andreia Ferreira
by Andreia Ferreira
Updated on

As an expat, understanding the intricacies of health insurance in Germany can be challenging and overwhelming.

Fortunately, Germany has an excellent public healthcare system. But between so many options, it’s perfectly normal that you feel the need for some guidance.

In this article, we will take a closer look at four public insurance providers, namely AOK, Barmer, Dak, and TK, so you can feel confident making a decision about the best public health insurance in Germany for you. 

Comparison Table

Unlike private health insurance providers, public health insurance tends to be more homogenous in its health insurance coverage and benefits.

This is because statutory insurance is regulated by the Government, so health insurers have to follow specific guidelines.  

In the next table, we are comparing four public health insurance providers – AOK, Barmer, Dak, and TK.

For the purposes of this comparison, we chose to simulate prices for a 30-year-old employee with no children, making a gross salary of 4000€ a month. 

The price estimates are based on the information provided by each of the providers and refer to the monthly contribution by the employee only (who has to pay half of the total, and the employer pays the remaining costs).

The price also includes nursing care insurance.

The “additional contribution rate” refers to an extra contribution that each public health insurance provider is allowed to charge.

They can choose the percentage that they want to charge, up to a specific limit.

Through all providers, you can access medical care in other EU countries by presenting your European health insurance card. This card allows you to have access to medical care outside of your country and within Europe. 

AOK

BARMER

DAK

TK

Monthly Contribution (30 year-old employee, 4000€ monthly income)

420€

397€

418€

408€

Additional contribution rate

1%-1.89% (depending on the branch)

1.50%

1.70%

1.20%

Coverage for dependants

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

General doctor appointments

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Specialist doctor appointments

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Prescription medicine

90%

90%

90%

90%

General vaccinations

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Medical transport

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dental cleanings

Up to €50/year

Removal of tartar once a year

Up to €60/year

Up to €40/year

Dentist treatments (eg. filings)

Basic treatments

Basic treatments

Basic treatments

Basic treatments

Tooth replacement (eg. dentures, implants, crowns)

60%, up to 70% (5 years) or even 75% (10 years) with a complete bonus book

60%, up to 75% with a complete bonus book

60%, up to 70% with a complete bonus book

75%

Preventive health treatments

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Therapeutic treatments (eg. physiotherapy)

90%

90%

90%

90%

Mental health therapy

Yes, only pre-approved

Yes, only pre-approved

Yes, only pre-approved

Yes, only pre-approved

Alternative treatments

Not included in some branches

Acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy (also for newborns and pregnant women), and traditional Chinese medicine

Osteopathy up to 120€/year; homeopathy up to 100€/year

Osteopathy up to 120€/year; homeopathy; acupuncture; naturopath

Medical aids

75%-90%

75%-90%

75%-90%

75%-90%

Vision aids

With limitations

With limitations

With limitations

With limitations

Pregnancy cover

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Hospital accommodations

Shared room

Shared room

Shared room

Shared room

Choice of hospital

Only public hospitals

Only public hospitals

Only public hospitals

Only public hospitals

English support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Bonus program

It depends on the branch

Up to 150€

Up to 500€

Up to 400€

Which Public Health Insurance Is Right For You?

In the public health insurance scheme, you have access to standard medical care (eg. basic dental care) through your insurance card (and through your European health insurance card when visiting an EU country) and the possibility to have statutory sick pay.

Over 90% of the services provided by the public healthcare system are required by law and are the same. 

However, there are still public health insurers that perform better in some areas compared to others and offer additional benefits.

Based on our analysis of these four providers in the German public scheme, and complemented by the information gathered by the German health insurance website (www.krankenkassen.de), these are our recommendations.

Best Public Health Insurance Overall

Our pick: Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)

TK insurance combines the best benefits and services with an attractive contribution rate.  

TK goes well beyond the catalog of mandatory services by law, with over 10,000 individual services available. It has been consistently regarded as one of the best public insurers in the German health insurance system. 

Best Public Insurance For Students

Our pick: Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)

Tk health insurance stands out for the additional services for students, bonus program, benefits for stays abroad, preventative examinations, and health courses with subsidies, among other benefits.

Best Public Health Insurance for Families

Our pick: DAK Gesundheit

If you have children or planning to, you’ll be in good hands with Dak public health insurance.

It offers a strong benefits program for children, with additional examinations during school years, and a bonus program for children up to their 18th birthday that can help you save up to 1,650 euros. 

Best Public Health Insurance For Employees and Self-employed People

Our pick: Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)

TK offers better contribution rates for professional people complemented by a good bonus program and strong benefits related to health promotion, prevention, dental care, and protection abroad.

Best Bonus Programme

Our pick: DAK Gesundheit

DAK once again stands out for the bonus program it offers.

The adult bonus program goes up to 500€ a year and the children up to  1,650€. Insured people can receive a cash bonus several times a year for carrying out preventive and health measures.

Best Public Health Insurance For Alternative Medicine

Our pick: Barmer

Barmer offers strong coverage for a wide range of alternative treatments, including for newborns and pregnant women up to 200€. 

Best Public Health Insurances in Germany 2024

Now, it’s time to review more closely the services and conditions provided by four statutory insurance companies.

Before that, you should understand that, in Germany, public health insurance takes into consideration your gross income and employment status to determine your contribution.

Unlike private insurance, having pre-existing conditions won’t affect your access to the public system.

All people making less than 66,600€ need to be registered with the public health system. If you’re making more you have the option to choose between public or private insurance.

Self-employed people, students, and civil servants can also voluntarily choose private health insurance. It can also be easier to find expat health insurance that fits your needs with a private health insurance company. 

With a German private health insurance plan, the prices are determined by age, health status, and the private coverage you want.

Although it can be more affordable for healthy, young people, having a private health insurance policy might not be the best option if you plan to have children or retire in Germany, as prices can increase significantly.

Public health insurance in Germany has a fixed contribution of 14.6% of your gross salary.

There’s a salary cap at a maximum of 4,987€, so you if earn more than this, you don’t need to pay a higher insurance premium.

If you’re employed, your employer pays half of that. Besides that, you also have to pay for nursing care insurance, which partially helps in meeting personal nursing needs. 

Important

For the purposes of this analysis, we are considering prices for an employed 30-year-old person with no children, with an income of 4000€ per month, as well as prices for self-employed people making the same amount of money, and students.

What’s shown is your final contribution.

1. Techniker Krankenkasse (TK)

TK Public Health Insurance

Technniker Krankenkasse is Germany’s largest public health insurance fund, with more than 11  million members. It’s also considered one of the best statutory insurance in Germany. 

In this table, you can see the monthly contributions for employees and self-employed people earning 4000€/month, as well as for students below the age of 30. 

TK Public Health Insurance

Employees

408€/month

Self-employed

768€/month

Students

112.22€ - 125.21€/month

Additional contribution rate

1.20%

Coverage for dependants

Yes

General doctor appointments

Yes

Specialist doctor appointments

Yes

Medication

90%

General vaccinations

Yes

Medical transport

Yes

Dental cleanings

Up to €40/year

Dentist treatments (eg. filings)

Basic treatments

Tooth replacement (eg. dentures, implants, crowns)

75%

Preventive health treatments

Yes

Therapeutic treatments (eg. physiotherapy)

90%

Mental health therapy

Yes, only pre-approved

Alternative treatments

Osteopathy up to 120€/year; homeopathy; acupuncture; naturopath

Medical aids

75%-90%

Vision aids

With limitations

Pregnancy cover

Yes

Hospital accommodations

Shared room

Choice of hospital

Only public hospitals

English support

Yes

Bonus program

Up to 400€

TK has a wide range of services that go beyond the legally required.

For non-prescribed medications as well as alternative treatments, TK covers up to 100€/year. It also covers artificial insemination and a midwife on call up to 250€.

TK’s public health insurance policy also covers sports medical treatment up to 120€, skin cancer prevention from the age of 20, as well as stomach and colon cancer prevention for people over 35 years old.

It also offers strong coverage for health promotion and therapy support, health courses, and a bonus program of up to 400€. 

When traveling in Europe, TK also offers a special service with TK-EuropaService that covers the risk of unforeseeable illnesses during temporary stays abroad of up to 42 days and has more coverage than the one provided by the European health insurance card. 

Pros

Strong coverage and a wide range of services for reasonable prices.

English-speaking services and support.

Several app-based services.

Medical advice via smartphone.

Bonus program that rewards engagement in health activities.

Extended travel insurance coverage for trips abroad.

24-hour service.

Cons

Doesn’t include all types of alternative treatments.

Limitations when it comes to dental care and visual aids coverage.

2. AOK

AOK Public Health Insurance

AOK is one of the largest insurance providers in Germany, offering health insurance for over 130 years.

They have a very large number of branches all over Germany (around 1200), protecting around 27 million people. 

For the purposes of this table, we are taking into consideration the prices provided by AOK Rhineland/Hamburg, which provides protection for around 3 million people. 

AOK Public Health Insurance

Employees

420€/month

Self-employed

816€/month

Students

122.38€ - 125.22€/month

Additional contribution rate

1-1.89% (depending on the branch)

Coverage for dependants

Yes

General doctor appointments

Yes

Specialist doctor appointments

Yes

Medication

90%

General vaccinations

Yes

Medical transport

Yes

Dental cleanings

Up to €50/year

Dentist treatments (eg. filings)

Basic treatments

Tooth replacement (eg. dentures, implants, crowns)

60%, up to 70% (5 years), or even 75% (10 years) with a complete bonus book

Preventive health treatments

Yes

Therapeutic treatments (eg. physiotherapy)

90%

Mental health therapy

Yes, only pre-approved

Alternative treatments

Not included in most branches

Medical aids

75%-90%

Vision aids

With limitations

Pregnancy cover

Yes

Hospital accommodations

Shared room

Choice of hospital

Only public hospitals

English support

Yes

Bonus program

It depends on the branch

AOK is not the cheapest statutory insurance in Germany, and the range of benefits will vary depending on the regional branch.

Outside standard care, AOK offers a range of courses, such as nutrition courses from Oviva, various relaxation and fitness courses, and yoga lessons.

AOK policyholders also have access to video consultations on orthopedics, oncology, and pregnancy.

Expectant and new parents can get phone consultations about pregnancy and their children’s health.  

This German health insurance company provides a hotline in English, where you can speak with AOK advisors to help you with any query you may have. 

Pros

English-speaking hotline.

Wide range of courses from fitness and stress management to pregnancy.

Bonus program that rewards health-conscious behavior (may not be available in all branches).

Possibility to get a second medical opinion.

Apps for health promotion that collect points that turn into cash rewards.

Cons

Some branches have higher than average contribution rates for members.

Not all branches include alternative treatments and bonus programs.

3. Barmer

Barmer is also one of the biggest German insurers, covering more than 8 million people nationwide.

It provides comprehensive coverage for families, preventive medical check-ups, and emergency coverage when traveling in the EU.

Barmer Public Health Insurance

Employees

397€

Self-employed

780€

Students

122.78€-127.65€

Additional contribution rate

1.50%

Coverage for dependants

Yes

General doctor appointments

Yes

Specialist doctor appointments

Yes

Medication

90%

General vaccinations

Yes

Medical transport

Yes

Dental cleanings

Removal of tartar once a year

Dentist treatments (eg. filings)

Basic treatments

Tooth replacement (eg. dentures, implants, crowns)

60%, up to 75% with a complete bonus book

Preventive health treatments

Yes

Therapeutic treatments (eg. physiotherapy)

90%

Mental health therapy

Yes, only pre-approved

Alternative treatments

Acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy (also for newborns and pregnant women up to 200€) and traditional Chinese medicine

Medical aids

75%-90%

Vision aids

With limitations

Pregnancy cover

Yes

Hospital accommodations

Shared room

Choice of hospital

Only public hospitals

English support

Yes

Bonus program

Up to 150€

Besides standard care, Barmer offers you:

  • A digital doctor finder tool to easily find a doctor who speaks English or any other language
  • A digital sick note tool, where your doctor will send your sick note directly to your employer
  • A Barmer app to collect bonus points and schedule appointments. 

The German health insurer offers 200€ for expectant parents, bonus rewards up to 150€, and several online courses to help you become fitter and healthier.

Pros

Affordable prices for members.

Fee medical advice in English.

Extensive alternative medical treatment options.

Award-winning BARMER-App to easily manage all things related to your health online.

Cons

Bonus program only up to 150€.

Bermer-App is not yet available in English (coming soon).

4. DAK Gesundheit

DAK Gesundheit Public Health Insurance

DAK is a large insurance fund with over 5 million members and branches in almost all major towns. It has a wide range of benefits, especially for young families.

DAK Gesundheit Public Health Insurance

Employees

418€/month

Self-employed

788€/month

Students

124.4€-129.27€/month

Additional contribution rate

1.70%

Coverage for dependants

Yes

General doctor appointments

Yes

Specialist doctor appointments

Yes

Medication

90%

General vaccinations

Yes

Medical transport

Yes

Dental cleanings

Up to €60/year

Dentist treatments (eg. filings)

Basic treatments

Tooth replacement (eg. dentures, implants, crowns)

60%, up to 70% with a  complete bonus book

Preventive health treatments

Yes

Therapeutic treatments (eg. physiotherapy)

90%

Mental health therapy

Yes, only pre-approved

Alternative treatments

Osteopathy up to 120€/year

Homeopathy up to 100€/year

Medical aids

75%-90%

Vision aids

With limitations

Pregnancy cover

Yes

Hospital accommodations

Shared room

Choice of hospital

Only public hospitals

English support

Yes

Bonus program

Up to 500€

DAK stands out in its benefits for young families.

For example, the AktivBonus Junior is tailored to children and young people, providing them with rewards up to 1,650€ when parents take them to check-ups, vaccinations, and sports activities.

Like the other insurers, Dak offers extended coverage for professionals, families, and students, offering them benefits related to health courses, bonus programs, preventive check-ups and treatments, and a digitalized service.

Pros

Good benefits for families, especially through their Aktivbonus Junior.

Wide medical coverage.

24-hour multi-language assistance.

Strong bonus and cashback program.

Digitalized service.

Sports medicine hotline.

Cons

Limitations when it comes to visual aids.

Some people complain about the bureaucracy and waiting times.

Things To Keep In Mind While Choosing A Public Health Insurance Company in Germany

German health insurance, particularly within the public health insurance scheme, offers a high-quality service to all its members.

If you’re an expat, you will need expat insurance for employment or student visa applications, which you can also access.

And although you have several health insurance options, the range of services and benefits is quite similar.

However, there are still a few things you should keep in mind when choosing the best health insurance for you. 

First, you should understand the distinction between statutory health insurance and private insurance within the healthcare system.

German private health insurance is only suitable for people who meet specific criteria, while public health insurance is mandatory if your annual salary is below 66,600€. People on pensions or unemployment benefits can also have access to public protection. 

The process is also different, as with statutory insurance you just need to provide your health insurance card. With private insurance, you usually have to pay upfront before being reimbursed. 

Private insurance policies, supervised by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, offer a wider range of coverage, from expat health insurance to travel insurance, no claims bonus, and other perks that go beyond standard care. 

When choosing statutory health insurance, consider the contribution rates for your specific case (employee, self-employed, with or without children, student, etc).

Then look at the coverage and benefits beyond what is required by law. These include customer service, bonus programs, health courses, alternative treatments, and preventive measures.

Look at the websites, and if needed reach out directly to the insurer to clearly understand your benefits and your contribution rate.

As an expat, choosing an insurer with English-speaking services will be the best option for you. Luckily, most providers offer that.

FAQs

Every German resident is eligible for statutory health insurance. 

Yes, statutory health protection covers mental health treatments. Psychotherapy appointments need to be pre-approved.

If you make more than 66,600€ a year, are a freelancer, a student, a doctor, or a civil servant, you can choose between public and private health insurance. This means you are “voluntarily insured”. 

Conclusion

Germany’s health insurance system is very strong and modern.

Statutory health protection covers a wide range of medical care and each provider offers several additional benefits to its members and their families. Most of the coverage is the same between providers.

As an expat, choosing the best option for you will depend on your specific circumstances and needs.

Luckily, you can find good protection for yourself and English-speaking services within the public system that will make everything easier.    

Andreia Ferreira
Andreia Ferreira
Andreia is our main writer/researcher here at TwoExpats. She does extensive research on the various products we review as well as writing compelling content that is easy to digest by our readers.

Leave a Comment