Health Insurance for Artists


Since the introduction of 'Artists Social Security' in 1983, self-employed/freelance artists and publicists (including writers, journalists, editors) have been included in the statutory social insurance system.

What does it mean for you as an expat artist coming to Germany?

Artists and some other professions MAY apply to join the KSK, which allows access to German public health insurance. The KSK itself is not a health insurer (Krankenkasse).

You need to submit your application direct to the KSK.

There are certain criteria to fulfill: all members must be working professionally in accordance with their typical occupational profiles. For example, a music teacher is considered an artist but a cabinet maker is considered a craftsman and not an artist. In borderline cases, recognition may depend on other factors: membership of an artistic association, participation in art exhibitions etc.

Income from professional work (revenues minus expenses) must be above the minimum income limit of €3,900. An exception is made for lower income in the first three years.

WARNING: it may take several months (up to 8 months) to be processed and approved and there is NO guarantee that your application will be accepted.

PROBLEM: this waiting period and the possibility of rejection obviously makes life difficult for people needing a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in case you are not an EU citizen. We are happy to help you find suitable health insurance for your visa appointment without a waiting period!

THE BENEFITS: as a member of the KSK, you are treated as an employee and not a freelancer or self-employed - even if you are! So you are entitled to statutory public health insurance, which is offered by over 200 'Kassen'. The cost of this insurance is income-related so you need to show the KSK an assessment of your expected annual income. For example, contracts, business proposals, royalties, gigs, critiques, newspaper clippings, sales etc.

The full rate for employee public insurance is 15.5% of your gross earnings, it's exactly the same as for 'normal' public insurance with the KSK paying half. IF you're planning to stay here very long term, joining the KSK makes sense because there are benefits through this subsidised health insurance.

However if you're NOT intending to stay very long, it may not be worthwile because you have to pay into the German State pension system (gesetzliche Rentenversicherung) - which amounts to 19.9% of your gross earnings, with the KSK picking up half the tab. Your contribution to the various social security programmes is not refundable and a pension is only payable at retirement age. The pension is actually worth nothing at all in the first two qualifying years. There' s the rub!

So, the alternative is to not join the KSK, in which case you'll have to find a better solution.