Finding a Doctor in Germany

Living in Germany can lead to daily challenges such going to the hairdresser, finding the nearest supermarket or choosing the right doctor. Back home, this decision is easier since you already know the country and how things are done there, mostly when it comes to medical issues.

However, as an expat finding the right doctor can be tough, not only because of the language difference, but also because of the lack of knowledge about the healthcare system and how does it work.

As I already mentioned in my post about the German Health Care System, this country counts with universal coverage for all the citizens. Therefore, every German resident has at least a public health insurance. Nevertheless, those who’d rather pay to have more coverages are enrolled in a private insurance.

For you as an expat, it is important to know that once you do the Anmeldung (registration as a resident in Germany) you will need to decide whether you enjoy the benefits of the public healthcare system , or whether you privately pay for a private health insurance.

No matter which decision you take, finding a doctor and calling the emergency number must be done in the same way.

But, how can I find the right doctor? Where should I call if I get badly sick at night?

In this post I will answer these questions and more. Are you ready?

Finding the right doctor

Choosing the right doctor can be intimidating because of the language difference. However, many doctors talk in English, so you do not need to be worried.

If your friends or colleagues cannot give you a good recommendation (yes, first option is always to ask people you already know, the best references usually come by word of mouth), then the best way to find a good doctor is to use the website Jameda, where you can find all the different doctors in your area depending on your illness.

Do not forget that in most of the cases you will need to visit first the Allgemeinarzt or Hausartz (general practitioner). This doctor will then decide whether he/she can take care of you, or whether you need to visit a specialist.

My personal recommendation is that you find a practitioner close to your house or your work place, in this way when you are really sick, you don’t need to cross the city to visit him.

Finally, take into account that to visit some doctors such as dentists, gynecologists and ophthalmologists you can make an appointment directly with them without talking first to the general practitioner.

Which are the office hours?

Office hours may differ depending on the doctor. However, most of the times, doctors are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and two days per week from 14:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

If you have an emergency (high temperature, influenza symptoms…) you can visit the doctor without making any appointment. Therefore, check the Akutsprechstunden of your general practitioner.

Akutsprechstunden are short consultations intended for acute health complains which are conducted in the doctor’s office during concrete office hours. Usually, Akutsprechstunden take place either early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

How to make an appointment

When making an appointment either per telephone or online.

If you call the doctor’s office, the first person you will speak to is the doctor’s assistant, who will give you an appointment without asking further questions about why you want to see the doctor. Usually, you can shortly explain the reason of your visit, and she will note it down for the doctor.

When making an online appointment, you can do it directly from the doctor’s website or via Doctolib. This page helps you finding doctors near you and making a direct appointment with them based on their availability.

Emergency number

When you have an urgent medical situation at night or during the weekend and doctor offices are closed, where can you go?

In Germany it exists a very important telephone number for people feeling sick and not able to leave their places: 116117. Use this number in case of an emergency that does not require an ambulance rushing to your house.

When calling this number you will first talk to a telephone assistant which will ask you some questions about your symptoms, your address and your social security number (Krankenkassenkarte). This person will then decide whether you need a doctor or an ambulance. In the first case, the nearest doctor will receive an emergency call and he/she will come to your house in less than 10 minutes. In case of an ambulance, the telephone assistant will contact them for you, so that you do not need to take care about anything during this stressful situation.

However, if your situation is critical and you are able to move, go to the nearest hospital with your Krankenkassenkarte and do not care about the costs. In Germany, health insurances take care of them.

Your turn

Have you ever been to the doctor in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

German health care system

“Bist du krank?”

Are you sick? – Get used to listen to this question almost everyday because… the weather is so crazy in Germany!

One day we wake up in a 20 degrees sunny day and the day after it is rainning and the temperature does not reach the 10 degrees.

Spring season is back!

Germans love drinking tea as a first step to recover themselves from sickness, however, and just in case this german technique is not helping you, we would like to let you know how the german healthcare system works.

German healthcare system

The german healthcare system assures universal coverage to all the citizens. Therefore the most recommended thing to do when you register yourself as a resident in Germany is to take out a Krankenkasse (a public health insurance company).

In case of unemployement you will have to carry out a fix monthly payment (between 140-160€) to the Krankenkasse that you choose. However, if you are employed, an amount of 8,2% of your income will be substracted to pay the public health insurance.

If you are willing to have more coverage you can always enrolle in a private insurance. In this case be aware of two things; the older you are the more expensive the insurance will be, and the doctors you can attend to are usually the same in both cases (with public and private insurance).

How to go to the doctor

In Germany practitioners are not associate to the Krankenkasse, so the best option, if you need to visit one, is to google it or to ask a friend if he can recommend you a good doctor.

If you are a european citizen and you are living in Germany for a short period of time (2-3 months) you can always use the european health insurance card and you won´t need to pay for the consultation.

In case you are a resident in Germany you will be asked to show your Krankenkasse card every time you visit the practitioner.

The consultation

First of all you have to visit the Allgemeinarzt (general practitioner) and then he will transfer you to a specialized medical practitioner.

Allgemeinarzt practices have also their own laboratory, in case some blood tests are required. However, if you need more specific tests the doctor will transfer you to another practicioner (in most of the cases you will have to look for one on your own, so check google or talk to your friends once again for a recommendation).

Taking time off for sickness

If you are employed you can take a day off to stay at home without going to the doctor, however, after the second day you will need to visit him to get diagnosed and to take time off for sickness.

In Germany it is really easy to book off sick at the office since they are really afraid of being contagious, therefore they prefer to stay at home instead of going to work (a time off sick due to a light cold can last 3 days).

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Medication

In comparison to other european countries Germany is really cautious regarding the selling of medical products. Basic things such as peroxide and mercurchrome are hard to buy without a prescription.

Whenever you need to go to the pharmacy visit your doctor first and ask him for a presciption. If you contract a public insurance it will take care of the costs of medicines.

Following you can find a list of the existing Krankenkassen and the private health insurance companies in Germany.

I hope it was a usefull post and you enjoy a nice spring season!