If you live in Germany, regardless of your citizenship status or nationality, you will most likely be a part of the German social security system. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this but the German social security system covers all trainees, students, employees, pensioners and their families.
The two categories of insurance policies in Germany can be classified as either compulsory or voluntary. The German social security system is where compulsory insurance falls. Under this social security system, there are 5 main types of insurances. They are health insurance, long term care insurance, pension insurances, work accident insurance and unemployment insurance.
Much like worker’s comp insurance in the United States, work accident insurance is paid for in full by employers in Germany. The four other types of insurances are paid for jointly by employers and employees. Each share the contributions equally. Contributions are calculated to be a percentage of income and have caps depending upon your income level. All things considered, you can expect contributions to amount to around 40 percent of your gross salary. Of that 40 percent, you are only shouldering 20 percent of that cost as your employer pays the other 20 percent. Like the withholdings that are taken out of paychecks in the United States, contributions to the German social security system are deducted directly from your paychecks. If you are self-employed then you will have to send in a payment for the contributions that are due.
An exception to this would be if you are a restricted employee, which means you work less than 50 days or 2 months a year. Another exception is if you work a job that give you income less than 400 Euros per month. If either of these situations apply to you, then you do not pay into the German social security system or tax system. But you still will need to be registered for health insurance.
If you are in Germany as a student, then you are required to have health insurance. In fact, you will have to show proof of having health insurance before you will be allowed to register at a German college or university. However, you university will pay for work accident insurance to cover you.
There are also some reciprocal agreements in place with other countries. You should check with your local embassy or consulate to see if your country is one of the country with a reciprocity agreement.
If you have questions regarding the German social security system in regard to your eligibility or responsibilities, you can contact the Federal Ministry for Health and Social Security, or simply look for information on their website.