If you divorce and your health insurance was previously provided under your spouse’s health insurance policy, your spouse’s health insurance provider will continue to meet healthcare costs for your children, but you will need to arrange health insurance for yourself as quickly as possible.
If your spouse was insured via a statutory health insurance provider, you can make a written application to be ‘voluntarily insured’ through that provider within three months of the date on which the divorce becomes final. The provider is obliged to accept you.
If, however, you take out private health insurance, you should expect to experience a waiting period during which you will not be covered and should expect to pay higher insurance premiums.
Difficulties can arise where your spouse was a public official (Beamter) eligible for the health insurance scheme for public officials (Beihilfe), with only a small percentage of insurance cover provided privately. Divorce ends your entitlement to draw on this Beihilfe, and you will therefore have to take out 100% private health insurance (very expensive). You can get around this problem by trying to find, either immediately after or before your divorce, a job lasting at least 12 months where you are obliged to take out statutory health insurance (i.e. not a so-called ‘minijob’). This enables you to obtain health insurance cover for yourself with a statutory health insurance provider. Health insurance premiums for ‘voluntarily insured persons’ are based on total income (including maintenance payments, etc.), whereas premiums for ‘compulsorily insured persons’ are based on earned income only.
Being insured individually, whether privately or through a statutory provider, carries significant additional costs. If you are receiving spousal support (Ehegattenunterhalt), you may be entitled to additional maintenance from your ex-spouse to cover these costs (Krankenvorsorgeunterhalt).
If you receive ALG II and are not already (or are no longer) insured under a family policy, compulsory insurance with a statutory health insurance provider will be paid for.
If you can show that you entail costs (e.g. for prescription charges) in excess of 2% (or for people with chronic conditions 1%) of annual family income before tax, this will be reimbursed or you can apply to your health insurance provider to be exempted from further charges. Allowances for each family member are taken into account in calculating the individual percentage applicable. Kindergeld (child benefit) and Erziehungsgeld (parental allowance) are not counted as income.
For children under 18, visits to the doctor and prescriptions are still free of charge, though travel costs are not reimbursed.
If you have any questions on statutory health insurance, you can call the Federal Ministry of Health telephone hotline:
030 – 340 60 66 01; Mon – Thu 8 am – 6 pm; Fri 8 am – noon.