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TK for international students

Expatrio 2024-02-27
Students sitting at a table


TK (or Techniker Krankenkasse) is one of the most popular health insurance providers in Germany, and it's a great option for students to turn to during their studies. Health insurance isn't an optional extra in Germany. The law requires all residents, and students, to hold some form of policy, but the type you choose can vary.

Let’s look at how to find the best TK plan for your situation as an international student in Germany.

Contribution rate for students

Firstly, students will need to know about how contribution rates work. Basically, this refers to the fee charged by health insurers to provide coverage. By law, German workers must contribute a minimum of 14.6% of their income - which is shared half and half between employer and employee contributions.

However, this doesn't usually apply to students, who won't have a regular income. Nevertheless, health insurance is a requirement for enrolling in German academic courses, so how do contributions work, and do students get a better deal than ordinary workers?

What is the TK contribution rate for students?

The good news is that German health insurers must provide subsidized health insurance for all students aged 30 and under. This takes the form of a "discount" payment which reduces the cost of your chosen healthcare policy to an average of €115 per month.

However, this subsidy runs out when you hit 30, and as many of those studying in Germany are mature students, other solutions will be required.

In this case, sticking with public health insurance options isn't usually the best option, as they charge higher rates for younger policyholders. The best value and tailored plans can often be arranged via private health care providers, which are well worth checking out.

Age limitation

If you are turning 30 during your stay in Germany, be aware that you will automatically be enrolled in the state-managed health insurance system. To switch to a private supplier, you'll need to apply within 3 months of turning 30.


What is covered by TK Student Health Insurance?

When you sign up for a TK Student Health Insurance policy, you will enjoy the same range of benefits as ordinary German policyholders

There are no limitations or uncovered conditions for students - and you will be able to access the same range of providers without restrictions.

The features covered by student policies include:

Two dental check-ups per year for holders and their dependents. Most basic dental procedures will be wholly or partially covered, though some co-payments may be needed.

Policyholders can use their eHealth card to fund appointments at general doctors, physiotherapists, mental health practitioners, podiatrists, back specialists, and even providers of alternative therapies such as homeopathy.

Most hospital procedures will be covered, either completely or in part.

The Bonus Points program delivers extra benefits such as acupuncture appointments or gym membership for customers who follow healthy guidelines. Health coverage extends across the European Union.

How do I get my TK eHealth card?

TK also offers other services for students, and the TK eHealth card is probably the most important.

To obtain a TK eHealth card, policyholders must supply a passport photo via TK's online portal. After taking out a policy, you will receive documentation from TK detailing how to apply for the card, so don't worry. Just take their advice and provide the photo. Your card should be supplied in a matter of days.

Students are completely covered by their TK health policy, whether they take out an eHealth card or not. So it's not essential to do so. However, it's a useful addition to anyone's wallet.


The electronic health card

Learn more about the TK eHealth card while watching the video. The TK eHealth card is your identification card when you visit a doctor. It makes it easier for you to utilise medical services in Germany and abroad. Simply present the handy chip card when you receive medical treatment by doctors, in hospitals or by approved therapists.

Make sure to check out the other videos from the TK YouTube Channel - they are really helpful. 


TK eHealth card

The TK eHealth Card is a very useful tool for exploring Europe. It entitles you to attend doctors' surgeries and hospitals across Germany, and is also connected to the EHIC network, which provides coverage throughout the European Union.


Working as a student

Many students will need to supplement their grants and savings with employment income during their time in Germany

And there are plenty of posts available, from catering work to childcare. But before they take any positions, students need to be aware of how doing so can affect their health insurance situation.

As a rule, EU students will be allowed to work for 20 hours a week throughout their studies. Those from outside the EU can also work, and have a quota of either 120 full days or 240 half days every year.

Students can earn up to €520 per month tax-free, but over that point income tax will be applied. If you breach the working days quota, you will also be forced to pay German social security contributions, and your student status can also be removed.

I work alongside my studies. How does this affect my TK health insurance?

As long as you remain under the working days or hours threshold, your health insurance premiums with TK will be limited as German law requires. However, if you breach the guidelines, the price of healthcare (and living costs in general) can rise immediately.

However, don't let this dissuade you from working your way through university or language courses. Most foreign students in Germany choose to take part-time work or internships, without harming their subsidized health insurance situation.

For more information, be sure to read Expatrio guide to working as a student. It should provide the background you need to earn and study without complications.

Monitoring your work days

Monitoring how many days you have worked is very important, so keep a spreadsheet and regularly update your working record. Checking your work total every month can help to avoid breaching working limits.


TK for PhD Students

While undergraduates are covered by BAföG and other subsidies, the situation is slightly different for doctoral candidates

In Germany, PhD students cannot receive state subsidies during their studies. However, this doesn't mean that your healthcare costs need to spiral. Instead, most PhD candidates opt for health insurance with providers like TK, which cost relatively little and suit their lifestyles.

If you do join academic research teams during your doctoral studies, this may change your health insurance status. Because your income will be under the limit for switching to private insurance, your employer will probably switch you to a state-managed scheme. In this case, your premiums will reflect the Beitragsbemessungsgrenze.

PhD course & working

Remember that if you earn over €520 per month during your PhD course, you will be classed as "employed". This means that you will need to pay contributions for nursing care and social security, just like any other German worker.


Student Status at TK Health Insurance

How long can I keep my student status with my TK health insurance?

If you have taken out a student health insurance plan with TK, this policy cannot usually be extended beyond your 30th birthday. At that point, the subsidies provided to students will run out, and you will need to take out TK's private health insurance policies for the over 30s.

This isn't always a bad thing from a financial standpoint. Students receive generous discounts, but insurers like TK also take the youth, fitness, and low risk of PhD students into account when calculating premiums. This should keep your payments within reasonable limits.


Catalog of TK Benefits

At its heart, TK is dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare insurance packages, and it offers products for a range of situations

Whether customers are students seeking medium-term coverage under state subsidies, or a head of household who wants to ensure that their dependents are covered, TK is a go-to insurer. It's also an insurer with several unique features that will appeal to new arrivals in Germany. For instance, TK offers:

TK-Appointment Service

The TK-Appointment Service will arrange doctors' appointments for policyholders whenever they need to see a medical expert. For no extra fee, TK will take care of bookings, making life easier for people who aren't fluent in German.

Travel Vaccinations

Foreign visitors will appreciate the inclusion of travel vaccinations in TK's packages. If you want to travel to tropical destinations, TK will pay for malaria or hepatitis vaccinations (although there may be a small supplementary fee for the vaccine itself).

Homeopathy and alternative medicine

If you prefer to rely on natural remedies and alternative therapies, TK is a good insurer to use. TK will happily refer members to homeopathic practitioners in their region, and will cover the first 60 minutes of consultations.


TK App and Online Services

German private health insurers have embraced the smartphone revolution, meaning that virtually everything required to take out a student health insurance policy can be carried out online

The TK App is a great example. Available for Android and iOS phones, the app lets you submit paperwork, download the insurance certificate required by universities, and access special fitness apps for policyholders.

The app links to the TK Bonus program, which lets policyholders accumulate points for healthy activities like running, quitting smoking, and attending dental check-ups. These points can then be cashed in for Euros, or exchanged for discounted premiums.

Get your Health Insurance

With our Health Insurance Plus you will benefit not only from excellent healthcare coverage, but also from additional benefits specially chosen for you.

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