One of the most perplexing issues I have come across so far is finding new insurance. Health insurance is legally mandated in Germany, so there isn’t any getting around the issue. To get a residence permit, you need insurance coverage that meets the government’s requirements.
Employees in Germany, including immigrants, are automatically placed in the public health insurance program. If you make over a certain salary, you can opt to get private insurance in lieu of or in addition to public insurance. (This is my understanding, although I may have glossed over some details.) As a freelancer, however, I have no choice: I have to get private health insurance.
When I started looking at insurance options, I thought my head would explode. The biggest issue was trying to decide between international insurers (who may or may not be accepted by the German government/German doctors) and German insurers (who may or may not accept immigrant freelancers). I couldn’t tell which international insurers fit the legal criteria, and I don’t speak enough German to begin research German insurers. Thankfully, at this point I decided to contact some insurance brokers in Germany.
The result? There is one and only one international health insurance provider whose plans fulfill Germany’s criteria: ALC Health. There are also a whole host of German insurers who will accept me as an immigrant and a freelancer. (One insurance broker provided me with a handy comparison chart.) These insurers charge a lot—some almost 5 times what I pay now in the U.S.—but they also cover a lot more than I am used to. For example, many of them include vision coverage automatically!
I haven’t yet decided which plan to get, but I do recommend finding a local insurance broker to guide you through the process. I quickly found several who are native English speakers but know the German system inside and out, and they each gave me valuable advice. Once I sift through all of my options, I’m sure I will find a plan that works for me.