The Künstlersozialkasse: Insurance for creative freelancers
Those who work in a self-employed capacity in an artistic field might be insured by the Künstlersozialkasse. It may not seem like it when you’re in the midst of the application process – we’ll get to that later – but the Künstlersozialkasse is your best friend when it comes to health insurance in Germany.
For those in regular employment, the means through which insurance is paid is fairly simple, and the costs of insurance are – comparatively – cheap: insurance payments come out of the wages along with tax, before the money reaches the employee’s account, and the cost of the insurance is split between the employer and the employee. In contrast, the self-employed must bear the full burden of payment, or at least they would without the Künstlersozialkasses’ help.
Some companies may seek to exploit those who undertake work on their behalf by employing them on a freelance basis; thereby reducing tax and avoiding those bothersome insurance contributions. In response, the German government stepped in and created the Künstlersozialkasse, which subsides the insurance of the self-employed and affords them the same discount received by those in regular employment; paid for by taxing companies that use freelancers: genius.
Provided that your field of self-employment is artistic in nature, for example: graphic design, writing, acting or even clowning; you can, and must, be insured with the Künstlersozialkasse. Once accepted, they’ll subsidise your health insurance contributions, pension, and mandatory long-term nursing care insurance.
How to become insured with the Künstlersozialkasse
The good news is that if you follow the necessary steps in the right order, becoming insured with the Künstlersozialkasse is a relatively straightforward process; at least in theory. German bureaucratic systems can be somewhat unforgiving, so it can, at times, feel a little like a game of snakes and ladders: if you don’t move across the board in exactly the right order you’ll land on the wrong square and be sent back to the start.
First, you must be registered as living in Germany and working in a self-employed capacity in an artistic field. This may seem obvious, but due to the nature of freelance employment you may already be working when you arrive in Germany; taking clients with you. If this is the case, the first step – for just about everything – is to complete the Anmeldung at your local Rathaus so that you’re registered as a resident in Germany.
If you’re already working, great! If not, then you must think about how you will prove to the Künstlersozialkasse that you will be freelancing in an artistic field. Provided that you’ll be generating the lion’s share of your income through freelancing, then this shouldn’t be a problem: you will be able to send CVs, cover letters you’ve written, links to online portfolios and things of that nature as proof in lieu of a contract or published work.
It is of course, necessary to inform the Finanzamt of your status as a self-employed person in Germany. If you are already working then the chances are that you’ve done this by now, but if not then don’t fret; it’s pretty straightforward. The form to register as newly self-employed person can be downloaded and printed from the Federal Financial Administration webpage , and all you have to do is fill it in and return it to your local tax office, who will then send you a tax number by post: voila!