Germany's excellent healthcare system is a major draw for international migrants. It shouldn't be challenging to locate a family doctor or Hausarzt since practitioners are available via public and private health insurance systems. This article will explain how to find a doctor in Germany and why it's essential to register with a local Hausarzt clinic.
Who Has Access To German Doctors?
It is illegal in Germany to see a doctor without health insurance. Furthermore, German law explicitly forbids its residents from going without insurance. Therefore, doctors will demand payment in full before seeing an uninsured patient.
Anyone who is not a German citizen or permanent resident must comply with this law. However, short-term visitors and residents from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland may use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access medical care in Germany. The card also covers minor medical difficulties and emergencies. However, when the bearer is not a German resident, the insurance cannot ensure that all medical expenses will be covered. Therefore, tourists and short-term visitors to Germany from outside the European Union should consider purchasing international health insurance or travel insurance from a company like World Nomads or AXA. Compare also lets you look at several European travel insurance plans.
Finding a German Medical Professional
The location of a patient's primary care physician is irrelevant, mainly in Germany. However, some clinics only accept new patients who live in their service region. Therefore, getting personal recommendations while searching for a family doctor (Hausarzt) or paediatrician (Kinderarzt) is advisable. It would help if you felt at ease with these physicians since they will be your initial point of contact for most medical situations. In addition, many Germans use the doctor review service Jameda to look for doctors and schedule appointments online. Platforms like ZAVA and Doctena provide an online communication between patients and doctors for primary care. Java serves the German market, whereas Doctena serves the rest of Europe. Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung (KBV) also provides a search function for locating physicians in a particular area (Bundesland). The KBV is Germany's central governing body for several statutory health insurance organisations.
You may also find local medical clinics through a fast search on Google. Meanwhile, entries in directories will make it easy to get in touch with nearby medical professionals. You might also phone your insurance company and ask for a list of nearby physicians, but they will likely only supply information about those who accept their particular plan.
Scheduling Medical Checkups
An appointment with your doctor may be scheduled over the phone or in person. While it's understandable if the assistant isn't fluent in English, it's not typical for German medical professionals to probe for specifics about your health over the phone. The amount of German you need to learn to get by is little. The wait time for even essential appointments might be several days or weeks.
Some medical offices allow patients to stroll in anytime during business hours and be seen by a doctor (Sprechzeiten). You may show up and wait to be seen, but remember that this might take a while. Expect to stay if you come on time for your scheduled appointment since walk-in patients may be seen before you if their condition is judged more urgent. A prescription may be redeemed at any drugstore after being given by a doctor.
Since many physicians split their time between a clinic and a hospital, it is not uncommon for their office hours to be unpredictable. Most medical offices are closed on Wednesday afternoons, as well as on weekends and legal holidays. If you are unsure when your doctor's office is open, it is in your best interest to call beforehand.
Don't forget to bring your health insurance card (Gesundheitskarte) to the appointment so the doctor may submit a claim to your insurance company. Patients with private health insurance may be required to make an initial payment before receiving reimbursement.
Visiting A German Expert (Facharzt)
In most cases, you are seeing a specialist who will need a recommendation from your primary care physician (Facharzt). However, with private health insurance, you may be able to bypass the wait time for an appointment with a specialist. If you are unclear about your coverage, please see your health insurance policy or contact your physician.
Can I Consult A Specialist Without A Reference In Germany?
This means that anytime someone in Germany is ill, their first port of call is an Allgemeinarzt (general practitioner). Something is off, so he investigates. If it's a severe problem or he can't assist you, he'll send you to a specialist. An Überweisung will be sent to you as payment (referral). You won't be able to visit a doctor unless you bring this.
Most importantly, seeing a specialist requires a recommendation from your primary care physician. It is common for German women to see their gynaecologist twice yearly for preventative care. Unfortunately, if you are above 18, your health insurance won't pay for the contraceptive pill, and a three-month supply would set you back roughly 20 to 30 euros.
Plus, Germans with public health insurance are required by law to see the dentist annually. Therefore, dentist bills cannot be covered if you don't follow these instructions. That's why it's essential to make frequent visits.
When I Become Sick In Germany, Will I Still Get Paid?
A German public health insurance member may expect six weeks of full pay from their job if they become sick. To get "sick pay," you must provide proof of illness from a doctor (Krankenbescheinigung). Therefore, maintaining contact with your employer is also crucial.
Tell your boss how long you could be off so they can start looking for a replacement. It is considered good manners in Germany to contact one's employer to inform them that they will be absent due to illness. Don't settle for a simple message through text or email. Sending letter fax to the doctor to verify an ailment is acceptable. Just drop it off at the office when you get back. Sick pay begins after six weeks of absence from work due to sickness. Then, for a maximum of 78 weeks, the government system will pay a portion of your salary as Krankengeld ('public sick pay). Is your primary source of income coming from your efforts? There will be a shift then. In addition, you cannot get ill pay unless you have private sick-paid health insurance.
Consider The Following Before Attending Your Scheduled Appointments:
Respect the time and place: Punctuality is essential in many aspects of German life, including medical checkups. The House doctor may refuse to see you if you arrive more than 10 minutes late for your scheduled appointment.
Take your insurance card with you: It'll ensure the doctor bills your insurance company accurately.
Predicting what will happen: It is common practice for a German Hausarzt to ask detailed questions about the patient's health before moving on to the physical examination.
What If I Become Sick In Germany And Don't Have Health Insurance?
It is possible to consult a doctor in Germany even if you do not have local health insurance. However, you will need to choose a private physician and pay for your treatment since a general practitioner (GP) visit without health insurance might set you back anywhere from €30 to €60.
Before relocating to Germany, enrolling in a health insurance plan is essential. Everyone in the nation is required to have medical insurance. Visas and permits may be rejected if this is not provided.
Picking The Right German Health Insurance
Depending on your visa status, you may not be eligible for public health insurance in Germany. If you are a student at an accredited institution, you may qualify for healthcare coverage via the government. You will be registered in the national health insurance programme if you work in Germany. If your salary is over a specific limit, or if you already have a private health insurance plan that offers coverage equivalent to the public system, you may opt-out of this system.
Those who do not meet the requirements for public health insurance must instead enrol in a private plan. Individuals in Germany may choose from a wide range of personal health insurance options.
Our comprehensive overview of locating a family doctor in Germany is now finished. These tips should make your search for a German doctor a breeze.
German Medical Registration
In Germany, people may go to whichever doctor they like, whether looking for a general practitioner, paediatrician, or gynaecologist. Kids may see multiple physicians throughout the year without registering with one office. Therefore, you can choose a new medical provider if your current one is less than satisfactory. However, sticking with the same practice means that your physicians and other staff will familiarise you, your family, and your health history, which can only benefit you in the long term.
Making A Trip To The Doctor
Making a trip to the doctor in Germany is relatively easy. In addition to calling the office, you may also schedule an appointment using Doctolib, Jameda, or Doctena, depending on whether or not the clinic supports such services. Then, make a follow-up appointment with the front desk staff if you'd like. The time until the next session depends on the patient's condition and might range from one week to six months.
Specifically, patients may come into physicians' offices during Sprechstunden (walk-in hours) for same-day appointments. You don't need an appointment during these times, just like UK-duty doctors. Of course, a visit to the doctor is warranted, but you should phone ahead to make an appointment for the same day if possible. A significant wait time is to be anticipated otherwise.
What To Anticipate During A Trip To The German Doctor
Check-in at reception when you arrive at the doctor's office. Your Krankenversicherungskarte will be required (health insurance card). If this is your first visit, there will be more documentation for you to fill out. There may be a wait of up to 30 minutes, so plan accordingly. However, these might change based on the clinic, the time of day, and the number of physicians on duty. That is why it's wise to contact ahead and find out how long a wait you may anticipate. The receptionist or doctor will call patients in the waiting area.
They will lead you to a room for an exam or a consultation. In the case of a regular exam, like a well-child visit, the doctor will continue with the examination while describing what is happening. If you're seeing a doctor in Germany, you should know to expect frankness and a little small chat. If further appointments are required, the receptionists may make these after the session. It's worth noting that certain German physicians provide insurance-covered internet services. Therefore, it's preferable to inquire with a specific clinic via phone.
Medical Care Is Expensive For Several Reasons
Germany's health insurance often covers doctor visits, paediatric exams, and wellness checks. Most urgent care services are also covered by health insurance. However, an uninsured tourist in Germany would generally be expected to pay for services in full when they are rendered, but there may be exceptions. Again, the kind of care needed will determine the final price tag.
It is important to note that health insurance often does not pay for all types of medical treatment. These include testing for toxoplasmosis in pregnant women, hearing loss, measuring joint thickness, and testing for human papillomavirus. It's important to note that neither public nor private insurance will cover the cost of these examinations. Nonetheless, it's wise to check with your insurer just in case since there may be nuances. Furthermore, unless referred by a doctor, public health insurance will not cover the fees associated with seeing a Heilpraktiker (naturopath) for an examination or treatments like acupuncture or craniosacral therapy. Conversely, patients with private insurance may be eligible for reimbursement of some or all of these expenditures.
Procedure fees may be due at the time of service or immediately after a doctor's appointment if arranged in advance. If they don't pay within the specified time range, they will be sent a bill in the mail.
If you have a medical emergency outside of business hours, your regular doctor should have an answering machine message with the contact information for an on-call specialist. You might also seek the assistance of a doctor on call.