Health insurance

Advice centres

Do I need a health insurance policy?

  • Yes. Everyone in Germany must have health insurance cover. This is known as the duty to be health insured.

  • The benefit of this is that if you are injured or get ill, then you can go to the doctor using your health insurance and, as a statutory insured person, you will not have to pay anything. If you are privately insured, then you will usually have to pay something at first, but you will get most of it back later. If you have a health insurance policy, then you can visit any doctor including dentists and gynaecologists and you can obtain a prescription for medicines and have yourself treated at hospital. You can also undergo preventative examinations, therapies and other services.

  • For this you must pay a fixed sum of money every month.

  • If you do not organise a valid health insurance policy in good time when you arrive in Germany, then it may be that you have to pay high premiums retroactively, for the entire period during which you have not had health insurance in Germany. This can quickly mean significant debts for you:

    If you already have this problem, please contact us at cara*SH.

Why is health insurance important to my work?

  • In your job, your health is especially important because you are in close physical contact with other people.

  • If you get ill or you wish to protect yourself, then you will have to pay an enormous amount of money for medical treatment yourself if you are not health insured. In Germany it is very difficult indeed to obtain good treatment without health insurance.

Who can help me decide about which health insurance company to go to?

  • If you want to find out how to get into (or back into) the health insurance system and what ways there are to make it easier to get back, you can obtain advice from ‘Unabhängige Patientenberatung Deutschland’ (UPD, Independent Patient Advice Germany). This independent, neutral advisory service is free of charge.

  • They have advice centres throughout Germany as well as an advisory telephone line. All of the UPD’s advisory services are free.

  • You can ask them questions about health insurance as well as other health and medical or legal issues.

  • Their patient advice line is easy to reach by telephone during the week:

    UPD advisory telephone line (free from any phone including a mobile phone):

    In German (Mon-Fri, 8 am to 10 pm)
    0800 0 11 77 22

    In Turkish (Mon-Sat, 8 am to 6 pm)
    In Russian (Mon-Sat, 8 am to 6 pm)
    0800 0 11 77 24

    In Arabic (Tue 11 am to 1 pm, Thu 5 pm to 7 pm)
    0800 33 22 12 25

    If you would prefer to speak personally to somebody at UPD, you can make an appointment for the UPD advice centre in Kiel by dialling this free telephone number: 0800 011 77 25.

    Wittland 2-4
    24109 Kiel

How does health insurance work?

  • Once you have chosen a health insurance company (Krankenkasse), you will have to send them a certain sum of money every month, even if you are healthy. In turn, the health insurance company will cover the costs if you get ill.

  • The amount of money you have to pay to the health insurance company, and whether you have to pay it all yourself or not, will depend on the form of health insurance, your type of employment and the amount you earn. Some services and examinations are paid only partially or not at all by the health insurance company. If this is the case, then you will have to pay for those yourself.

  • Important: in Germany there are two types of health insurance companies: statutory and private, known as GKV and PKV respectively.

What’s the difference between statutory and private health insurance? 

  • In statutory health insurance (GKV), monthly amounts are paid to your health insurance company. In return you receive a health card which you can take to the doctor at any time for free treatment.

    However, some medical services will need to be paid partly by you, or the treatment may not be covered at all. If this is the case, then the doctor must inform you beforehand and obtain your written consent.

  • In the case of private health insurance (PKV), you yourself must first pay the entire doctor’s bill. You will then usually get most of that amount back from your health insurance company.

Which form of health insurance is most suitable for me? 

  • This question will usually be answered according to your working situation:

    If you are self-employed, then you have to take care of your health insurance yourself. Self-employed people usually have the choice of whether to take out statutory or private health insurance. Many self-employed people choose private health insurance (PKV).

    Self-employed people can always take out private insurance, no matter how much they earn. Low contributions when they are young are often offset by higher ones as they get older.

  • Private health insurance companies have the right to turn you down. You must insure yourself at least using the basic tariff.

  • If you are self-employed, it may still be a good idea to have yourself voluntarily insured under statutory insurance. For example, if you have a family: the advantage of statutory health insurance is that you can co-insure your family members free of charge.

  • Think carefully about which of the two systems you choose. It is not usually possible to switch over at a later date.

  • If you are employed, then you will be offered statutory health insurance (GKV). Your employer will register you with a health insurance company of your choice. They will pay a little less than half of your monthly contributions and the rest will be deducted directly from your wages and sent to the insurance company.

How do I know whether I am employed or self-employed?

  • You are self-employed if you are able to choose your place and time of work yourself. If you are the operator of a prostitution establishment, then you are considered self-employed.

  • You are employed if you work in prostitution under contract (verbal or written) for an employer:
    General employment law

I come from an EU country and I work in Germany. What should I take note of?

I do not come from the EU and I am working in Germany. What do I have to take care of?

Where can I find more information and help?

  • If you have questions, contact us at cara*SH.

  • Together we will find a solution for you.

Advice videos

Informations about health insurance for sex workers in Germany


Advice near you

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cara*SH Fachberatungsstelle für Prostituierte in Schleswig-Holstein

Christianstr. 6
24534 Neumünster