Germany is renowned for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Treatments are prompt with few waiting lists and are carried out with top-of-the-range equipment to a consistently high standard.
However, this high standard comes at a high cost! In Germany all medical care and treatments are paid for through your health insurance (or by you if you don’t have health insurance). German healthcare costs also happen to be some of the highest in the world which can make being ill an expensive business.
To keep the costs down and to protect yourself and your family comprehensive health insurance couldn’t be more strongly advocated.
In fact health insurance is a prerequisite for students and employees and in many cases you won’t be issued a residence permit unless you can offer proof of adequate cover, so it should be one of the first things you arrange.
As of 2009, health insurance for all holders of a German residence permit must be issued through a German provider.
German residents can obtain private or state health insurance. It’s highly recommended that you shop around when it comes to selecting an insurance provider as the costs and cover can vary significantly. Before securing your insurance cover make sure you know the limitations of your policy.
In Germany the hospitals are public (state-maintained) private or charitable. The vast majority of hospitals are open to all insured patients but treatments are always fairly costly and proof of your insurance should always be brought.
In a medical emergency you should dial 112. Urgent medical treatment can be sought from your nearest hospital’s accident and emergency department. Emergency doctors can also be called and their numbers are commonly listed in local newspapers.
In Germany a general practitioner is known as a Hausarzte and most German residents use them as family doctors. They can make diagnosis, prescribe medications and refer you to a specialist if necessary.
The names of local doctors and practices can be found in the areas telephone directory. Although most doctors will speak at least some English you’ll have to contact your local embassy or consulate if you want to find one who speaks fluent English.
Your German health insurance company will issue you with an ID card which must be shown every time you visit the doctor.
It’s also important to bear in mind the fact that some doctors will only treat privately insured patients. Those doctors which accept state insurance generally have the fact signposted.
In Germany nursing care is also mandatory for everyone with health insurance.
The cost for dental treatment in Germany can be extremely high and (depending on the procedure) even comprehensive insurance cover won’t always pay for the full treatment amount. Due to the high cost many foreign German residents return to their country of origin for dental treatment.
Pharmacies are widely available in Germany and generally keep similar opening hours to shops. As is the case in most countries, medications in Germany are either freely available or available on prescription. Prescription medications can only be obtained with a script from the doctor and usually cost a nominal fee on top of a charge to your insurance (depending on your type of insurance).
Be warned however that German medication costs are among the highest in Europe!