Health insurance is compulsory for everyone in Germany, and that naturally includes all university students, irrespective of nationality or whether they are degree-seeking or here on an exchange/mobility. This is why your insurance status is part of the enrolment process. Simply put, if you don’t have a recognised health insurance, you cannot enrol on your degree programme or complete re-registration for the next semester.
One of the things that happen behind the scenes when you enrol on a degree programme or re-register for the upcoming semester is a two-way communication process between the University and the statutory health insurance provider.
This is necessary because the University and the health insurer are required by law to make official notifications and certifications concerning students’ insurance status. The legal basis is § 199a subsections 2 to 5 of the Fifth Book of the German Social Code (SGB V).
The German health insurance market is divided into statutory health insurance providers (“Krankenkassen”), which are public-sector organisations, and private-sector insurance companies (“private Krankenversicherung” or "PKV"). The statutory health insurers have two functions: to provide insurance coverage and to serve as the official agencies that check whether you have insured status.
When you apply for enrolment, the University notifies the health insurer of this fact. The health insurer then reports back whether you have “insured” or “not insured” status. If the status is “not insured”, no further information is sent and you will not be able to enrol (until you get health insurance).
If the status is “insured”, the following events will trigger a further notification from the University to the insurer:
- when you officially start your studies (starting/enrolment dates are transmitted)
- when you graduate or terminate your degree programme (date of termination of enrolment)
The health insurer, on the other hand, notifies the University in the following events:
- if you change health insurers (the new insurance company notifies the University of the start date of the insurance policy)
- if you don’t pay your insurance premiums
This last point is particularly important: If you are late paying your insurance premiums, this automatically prevents you from re-registering for the next semester (the legal basis for this automatic “re-registration ban” is § 254 SGB V). On the other hand, the insurer will also inform the University once all overdue and current premiums have been paid, after which the re-registration ban is lifted. Nevertheless: If the re-registration ban is active and prevents you from re-registering before the re-registration deadline, your enrolment will be terminated at the end of the current semester: it is therefore vital that you pay your insurance premiums on time.