German Health Care for Foreigners

German Health Care (or healthcare) is nothing if not very efficient.

As an Auslander (foreigner) you need your own health insurance to cover all medical costs. But, as you need it anyway to obtain your visa from the Landratsamt, this is not an additional problem.

If you are working for a German company, chances are that they will help you get German Health Care coverage through governmental or private health insurance plans. Every German, and employees of German companies (even the foreigners), are by law covered by health insurance. Almost 90% of Germans are covered by the State health insurance and some 9% by a private health insurance. To learn more about health insurance in Germany, you can visit the web-site of the German Medical College. It is quite useful and in both German and English throughout.

If you have your own insurance from your country of origin and do not participate in German health insurance,in most cases, the clinic/hospital/doctor sends you the bill by mail and you can pay it directly where you received the care or at your bank via payment transfer. Then you ask the insurance company for your money back.

We experienced German Health Care first hand and were happily surprised by the speed of the services received at the clinic.

My Mann (German for a man and husband) thought that he had a kidney stone (again!) and had to go see a doctor ASAP.

So we called the specialist, in this case the urologist, on Monday, got an appointment for the next morning, and the complete exams on Friday morning.

The doctor's diagnosis and results (bloodwork, X-rays, etc) were delivered to us by mail at the begining of the next week!

The exams were performed directly at the clinic and the doctor spoke good English.

Now, that's service!

The only light difficulty was that the doctor's assistant and secretary did not speak a word of English. But, on the other hand, because you can call the specialist directly without being recommended by a general practitioner, I did not have to explain why my Mann needed an appointment.

German Health Care is fast and efficient.

Actually, most German doctors , especially the younger ones, seem to speak some English (although some are more fluent than others), and all are professional and well educated. If you are uncertain about the ability of your doctor to speak English, you might want to bring a small dictionary with you for medical terminology or someone who speaks both languages. I, for one, always have my pocket-size dictionary with me.

Most German doctors work in private or semi-private clinics and at hospitals, which of course, reduces to some degree the time that the clinics can be open. On the other hand, when one clinic is closed another nearby stays open so that you can always find one open in case of emergency.

The local newspapers usually provide the opening dates and times of nearby emergency clinics or hospitals, dentists and pharmacies ("Apotheka"). If the clinic you are trying to reach is closed, they will probably have recorded a message telling you the name and phone number of an emergency doctor.

You can also find the phone numbers of all the nearby doctors listed by their appropriate medical specialities, with phone numbers and addresses, in local phonebooks.

Another important point is that German doctors are not in the habit of explaining the what and why and how of your situation. So, if you want to know about your condition, ask the doctor directly.

It is not that they don't want to explain, it's just that they have not been taught in this way.

Emergency numbers for doctors is: 112

For more info. on pharmacies, German doctors , Dentists and Hospital, click on the appropriate link.

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