If you’re planning to travel this summer, you may want to review your German health insurance policy before you leave. It’s wise to know what your insurance will and will not cover in case you or a family member get sick abroad.

As a reminder, health insurance is mandatory for all residents in Germany. So all legal residents here undoubtedly have at least the basic required coverage, provided by one of Germany’s public health insurance providers or a private health insurance plan that meets the minimum coverage requirements.

German insurance does cover medical emergencies in Europe

Statutory health insurance holders in Germany automatically receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). In many cases your EHIC is the same as your regular health insurance card (Gesundheitskarte).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED – Can you switch from private to public health insurance in Germany?

For those with an EHIC, necessary health care is covered in European countries. For example, if you get sick while travelling Europe, or have an accident or need urgent surgery, your German insurance will pay for the immediate emergency treatment you require.

Some health insurance plans may also extend their coverage to a few other countries beyond the EU, such as Switzerland, Romania or French territories like French Guiana or Guadeloupe. 

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But generally basic coverage does not extend to Africa, the Americas, Australia or Asia.

A full list of countries where you can use your EHIC is found here.

health insurance cards

Many health insurance cards in Germany double as a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), meaning that they can be used across Europe. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Kalaene

Note that this care does not necessarily extend to treatments that are not urgent. Once your condition is stabilised and it is safe for you to travel, you may be transferred back to Germany to finish any further treatments at home.

Generally doctors in other European countries should be able to bill EHIC providers directly, but if not, you’ll want to keep your bill and submit an invoice to your health insurance provider for a reimbursement. In this case, you should collect and keep all the documents you receive related to your care, like prescriptions and receipts.

Generally additional health insurance would be required for long-distance trips. If you are taking a business trip abroad, your employer is responsible for reimbursing health care costs.

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Note that health costs can be considerably more expensive in other countries

A standard health insurance plan in Germany won’t cover medical expenses incurred in most countries outside of Europe, so you may want to purchase travel health insurance for trips beyond the continent.

Keep in mind that in some countries, like the United States, the cost of medical care tends to be significantly higher than it would be in Germany. So purchasing additional care insurance may be worth considering when travelling there.

Most major insurers in Germany, like Allianz and AXA, offer supplemental global health coverage that would pay for most of the costs which are un-refunded by your main insurance while travelling.

READ ALSO: Could it soon get harder to get private health insurance in Germany?

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