Health Insurance If You Are Unemployed in Germany

Having health insurance is mandatory in Germany and it cost 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 Insured in Germany?

An unemployed has different options to get health insurance in Germany. It’s vary depending on the current and past status in Germany. There are several insurance options 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.

Check out the most recommended insurance for the unemployed Feather is perfect for people with no income, or your visa application.

Ottonova on another hand is the best choice for foreign employees, expats, freelancers, and self-employed.

If You Were Employed in Germany

As mentioned previously, employed people in Germany don’t have to worry about their health insurance – it will be covered by the state. 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 employee get 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 employee leaves the job voluntarily

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 voluntarily 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 compulsory coverage.

Read a related article about unemployment benefits in Germany when you leave your job voluntarily. Moreover, it includes all related information to unemployment benefits in Germany.

How Much Do Unemployed People Pay for Health Insurance?

People who are eligible* for unemployment benefits pay 0 EUR for the health insurance per month. 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 the private insurance might be different.

* You have paid social contributions in the country for at least 12 months in the last 30 months.

If you are looking for the cheapest coverage, check out this article, we have made a full in-depth review of all affordable providers in Germany.

About Health Insurance in Germany

Anyone who isn’t familiar 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 who applies for a visa can only sign for a private one and then later in Germany switch to the public provider.

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 coming on a tourist visa need to have 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 not available for them, since you need to prove the legit reason for staying in Germany.

People From EU/EEA Staying in Germany Short-Term

Citizens 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 Unemployed in Germany

Unemployed people can sign 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 the wider range of people than a public one. It’s especially preferable among foreign students.

If an insured person buys medicine according to prescriptions, a private provider will reimburse the full 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.

The best private insurance providers are Ottonova and Feather.

Who can sign for private insurance in Germany?

  • Job Seekers
  • Students
  • Au-Pairs
  • Expats
  • Language students
  • Adult education students
  • Trainees
  • 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

Feather is an English-speaking health insurance provider based in Berlin. They offer all types of health insurance, including Public, Private, Dental, Liability, Household insurance and more. For students looking for the cheapest health insurance, their Public coverage is the best.

You can sign up completely online and get full English support anytime, which is why they are our number one recommendation. 

The price of comprehensive public insurance for students is 105 EUR per month. You can sign for additional dental insurance for better dental care, which will cover ALL your needs&wants at the dentist’s office for just 9 EUR per month.

Feather offers a wide range of insurance coverage for all types of people, no matter their situation. You can calculate their rates online, where they provide 100% transparency.

Expat health insurance is open to many people who are not employed and need health insurance for their visa application. The price for this coverage starts at 72 EUR per month. You can sign up easily online, and you will be issued your coverage in just 2 minutes.

expat/incoming insurance is good for:

  • New arrivals to Germany
  • University students
  • Students of language courses
  • Interns and trainees
  • Expats and unemployed persons
  • Self-employed persons who are not earning a high income (less than 50,000€ annually)
  • Perfect for your first visa application

Hence, if you need simple insurance for visa application and the first days in Germany, incoming insurance is your best choice.

On the other hand, long term public health insurance from Feather is suitable for:

  • University students under 30 years old 
  • Employees with a German contract
  • Self-employed persons who have moved to DE from somewhere else in the EU

Private health insurance – This coverage is great for those earning a high income (more than 65,000€ per year) as it’s generally much less expensive than public health insurance. Here’s who might consider signing up for private health insurance:

  • Young and healthy individuals earning more than 65,000€ per year
  • Young and healthy self-employed individuals earning more than 45,000€ per year

Private health insurance is recommended to healthy individuals only because any pre-existing health conditions might raise your monthly premium or simply not be covered altogether. For anyone with serious pre-existing conditions, Feather recommends public insurance.

On a Feather website, you can use a tool to estimate the exact monthly rate of the insurance, depending on your situation and income.

Read reviews here.

Ottonova offers great personalized packages & English speaking support for:

  • Employees
  • Freelancers
  • Self-employed
  • Business owners
  • Expats
  • 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.

Heath 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. However, such insurance doesn’t provide the same benefits as public or private insurance in Germany. But expat policy is surely better, than regular travel insurance.

Expat health insurance plans cover major medical expenses, medical emergencies that require hospitalization but also costs related to preventative and out-patient 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.

Same as with private insurance, patients pay for treatments themselves and get reimbursed by the insurance provider afterward.

Who can sign for expat health insurance?

  • People intended to stay temporary 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:

In Germany, Ottonova and Feather offer this type of insurance.

Public Insurance For Unemployed in Germany

There are more than 200 public health insurance providers in Germany, 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 with 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.

If you are looking for the cheapest coverage, check out this article, we have made a full in-depth review of all affordable providers in Germany.

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 normal 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 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 for voluntary health insurance?

Voluntary insurance with the AOK is open to many people. This includes:

  • employees
  • self-employed
  • students
  • pensioners
  • 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 in accordance with their income unless they are insured will some other company 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.

Whereas, public health insurance will cost you between 17,9% to 20,6% of the total income. (Source:

Check out the most recommended health insurance in Germany, Ottonova, it’s customized for foreign employees, expats, freelancers, and self-employed. Another option would be private insurance from Feather, which is suitable for self-employed people with relatively high incomes.

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 around 180 EUR per month


Will State Pay for Private Health Insurance?

What to do if you lose your job but signed with private insurance?

To be able to receive health insurance funded by the state, former employees must:

  1. Be entitled to the unemployment benefits in Germany – have paid social contributions for 12 months in the last 30 months
  2. Change private insurance provider to the public as soon as possible after the termination

Looking for the cheapest health insurance in Germany? Read this article.

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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