Medical care for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in GermanyEveryone who enters Germany or resides there legally is required by law to obtain health insurance. This means, as a visitor, student, foreign worker, or simply legal resident of Germany, you must be insured in healthcare.

However, this is not the case when it comes to refugees or asylum seekers. Those entering Germany to seek asylum are not eligible for coverage under Germany’s statutory health care system like the majority of the population in Germany.

The large number of asylum seekers in the past years has brought along major challenges to the healthcare system in Germany. In addition, there are differences between federal states and the services they offer to refugees, making it difficult for these individuals to seek medical assistance efficiently.

Let’s go through everything you need to know about health insurance for refugees and asylum seekers in Germany.

Where Can I Get Health Insurance as a Refugee in Germany?

Although refugees and asylum seekers cannot get health insurance under the statutory  health insurance providers like the rest of the residents, Germany offers a set of basic medical needs to this category of expats.

Upon entering Germany, a refugee must undergo regular medical check-ups to see the health situation of the individual. Afterwards, if needed, medical doctors may require them to undergo further analyses in order to conclude more details on their health.

So, if your asylum procedure is still processing, you have a tolerated stay (Duldung), or have been issued a border crossing certificate (Grenzübertrittsbescheinigung), you are eligible to request medical assistance through the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (AsylbLG).

What Does Healthcare for Refugees in Germany Cover?

Medical assistance is available to refugees in Germany as well, however, only to a certain extent. More specifically, the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (AsylbLG) covers the following services to refugees:

  • Proper medical treatment of acute illnesses
  • Medical care for pregnant women
  • Medical care to women who have recently given birth
  • Basic dental care
  • Preventive vaccination
  • Other essential medical services for a particular illness.

Healthcare services also depend on your residency status in Germany. More specifically, there are two groups of asylum seekers in Germany:

  • Individuals who have been in Germany for less than 15 months.
  • Individuals who have been in Germany for more than 15 months.

Refugees or asylum seekers who have been in Germany for less than 15 months are only eligible for emergency healthcare. They will be accepted for medical assistance only in cases of acute illnesses and the costs of treatment for chronic diseases are often not covered by the state.

In addition, before you visit the doctor, you are required to apply for a voucher (Krankenschein) from the authorities. So, you either get a few vouchers from the Social Welfare Office every three months, or you pick up a voucher from them anytime you need to see a doctor. These vouchers only have a three-month validity span, before you need to obtain new ones.

Refugees or asylum seekers who have been in Germany for more than 15 months are entitled to receive services from the German statutory health insurance scheme. These individuals are issued a “HealthCard for Refugees” through which they will be able to access medical care directly without the need to apply for vouchers through the authorities beforehand.

Furthermore, although these individuals can benefit from all the services of the statutory health insurance scheme in Germany (except the long-term care insurance), they are not official members of the statutory health insurance, but are under their supervision. This is nothing to worry about since the state reimburses the health insurance company for the services they offer you and you are free to choose from any statutory health insurance provider you see fit.

Can Refugee Students Seek Health Insurance in Germany?

Refugees who have a recognized refugee status are eligible to enroll in higher education in Germany. They will be treated just like any other international student with the same requirements applying to them as to students arriving from abroad. However, this only applies to students who are under the age of 30.

These refugee students have the right to enter the statutory health insurance scheme and benefit from the same services as other residents in Germany. They will also be required to carry the same monthly premium as the other students.

Which German Federal States Give Health Insurance Cards to Refugees?

Obtaining vouchers has proven to be a common problem among refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. Since these vouchers are to be taken from medical personnel in initial reception centres, when individuals are accommodated elsewhere, they still need to go to the social welfare office in their municipality for the vouchers. This is especially troublesome in case of an emergency and treatment may also be delayed due to administrative issues.

As a result, a number of Federal States have decided to issue health insurance cards that enable asylum seekers to see the doctor without the approval of the authorities or the necessity to go through bureaucratic procedures. These states include:

  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia

Moreover, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate, the health card has been introduced but it has not been implemented in all municipalities, only in a few of them. The health card has been rejected in the Federal States of Bavaria, Hessen, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Saarland.

Does Every German State Offer Health Insurance for Refugees?

Since individual states in Germany set their refugee health insurance policy on their own, there are states that do not offer health insurance services to refugees apart from the medical assistance refugees gain from the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (AsylbLG).

German Federal States offering health insurance for refugees:

  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Berlin
  • Hamburg
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Thuringia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate

German Federal States with partial application of health insurance for refugees:

  • Hesse
  • Lower Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt

German Federal States that have not introduced health insurance for refugees:

  • Baden-Wurttemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Mecklenburg- Vorpommern
  • Saarland
  • Saxony

Other types of health insurance in Germany: