The German Local Healthcare Insurance System
The German healthcare system is known as one of the most competitive in the world. The entire country maintains high-quality medical equipment and physicians, including in less urban areas.
The healthcare system is organized according to two principles: public healthcare, which is compulsory for any employee earning less than gross €50,850/year * (optional for people who earn more) and private healthcare, intended for people earning more than €50,850 for at least three years, as well as free-lance workers and civil servants.
No medical questionnaire is required to subscribe to public healthcare insurance. You will be enrolled directly with the public health insurance fund that you chose by your employer. If you take out private healthcare insurance, please note that this choice is almost permanent as there are many constraints to go back to public healthcare insurance.
Primary care physicians
Upon your enrollment, you must choose a practitioner for the entire duration of the quarter and you will not be able to choose a new one after that.
Though most German physicians speak good English, we recommend that you contact the embassy of your country to find out which physicians speak your language.
Please note that some physicians ONLY accept patients who are covered by private healthcare insurance. It is important that you check this information before going to a medical office.
Attention: doctors’ offices are rarely open on Monday and Friday afternoon.
If you are covered by public healthcare insurance, you do not have to pay for your consultations (directly paid by the health insurance fund to the physician). You will only have to pay a €10-deductible per quarter that you will settle on your first visit to the GP during the quarter (this deductible will have to be paid before being reimbursed by a private healthcare plan).
If you are covered by public healthcare insurance, you need to see your primary care physician first before going to a specialist. This step is not required if you are covered by private healthcare insurance. You may have to wait a long time before getting an appointment (several weeks). Public and private healthcare plans do not cover all medical specialties: we advise you to check with your health insurance fund before requesting certain types of consultations. If a specialty is not covered by your insurance plan, we recommend that you find a “regular” doctor who also provides medical services for the specialty in question: in that case, the consultation will be reimbursed.
Being admitted to the hospital
Hospitals provide high-quality medical care as each facility (public, private or university) is committed to quality administration and care. Except for certain private hospitals, they are available to anyone who has healthcare insurance. The cost of hospital care can be quite high, which is why it is important to check the level of your coverage before going to the hospital. A €10-deductible must be paid every quarter and the daily hospital charges cost the same amount.
Prescription drugs are covered. However, a deductible applies, amounting to 10% of the total price, which must be comprised between €5 and €10. Over-the-counter drugs are not reimbursed by any public or private healthcare insurance.
In case of emergency
Call 112 to send an ambulance.
Last updated on January 2013
*limit in 2012