Health Tips in Germany



The German health care system is one of the best in the world. A wide network of hospitals and clinics manned by well trained medical professionals ensures that there is no waiting time involved in dispensing treatment. 

The cost of health care is very high making health insurance a necessity. There is no free treatment even in public health care facilities. Nursing care is obligatory for everyone with health insurance. Those belonging to EU countries will have a European Health Insurance card to which they are entitled to free treatment when travelling in the EEA. However, if you intend to stay in Germany for more than a year you have to exchange this card for a local insurance scheme. 


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Hospitals & Clinics 

There is a network of state-maintained (public) hospitals, private hospitals and charitable/non-profit hospitals (mainly religiously affiliated). There is a university clinic in most university towns where outpatient treatment is offered.  

Except for some private clinics, all hospitals are open to all insured patients. If you need to go to a hospital, carry proof of health insurance with you. The room you will get depends on your health insurance scheme. Patients with state insurance pay a small daily rate for the first 14 days of their stay. Carry a few clothes and toiletries with you when you go into hospital.  


Medicines can be purchased from chemists/pharmacies (Apotheke), denoted by a large red A, while drugstores (Drogerie) sell toiletries. Pharmacies are open 09:00-18:30 on weekdays, 09:00-13:00 (sometimes -16.00) on Saturdays. There is always at least one pharmacy open in every area, day and night, in cases of emergencies. 

The cost of medication in Germany is very high, and it may be worth it to bring a supply of non-prescription painkillers and medication for cold, headaches and stomach ailments. There are two classes of medicines available; prescription drugs which require a Rezept (prescription) from a doctor and others that are freely available. Prescription laws in the country are very strict. Many medications that you can buy over the counter in your country may be prescription drugs in Germany. State insurance pays for all prescription drugs directly. However, all non-prescription drugs must be paid for by you irrespective of the type of insurance cover.  


Doctors in Germany are listed in the telephone directory or the Yellow Pages. The best way to find a doctor is to ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation. 

Most people have a Hausarzt, or GP, as their family doctor who refers them to a specialist if required. Most doctors speak Basic English. You could contact your embassy to locate doctors who speak English or your native language. If you need to see a specialist, it is advisable that you seek prior appointment. Waiting time could be a few weeks. However, those in need of urgent care may walk in at any time. Surgery hours are usually every morning, and there are a few surgeries that are open on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Those with German health insurance will be given a plastic ID card which you must carry when you visit a doctor. Your personal data is on a chip which is on this card. The doctor's secretary will screen this on your first visit. 

For those with state insurance, doctors will send their bills directly to the insurance company. A fee of €10 for your first visit every quarter is payable in cash. Those with private insurance can pay first and are later reimbursed by the insurance company. Some doctors only treat privately insured clients. If you have state insurance, check on this when making an appointment. Look out for a sign Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen in the doctor's surgery, and you will know that he accepts patients who subscribe to the state insurance scheme.

Dental costs in Germany are very high and getting a written estimate of costs before accepting treatment is a good idea. If you would like to be treated by an alternative medical practitioner, check with your insurer first. 

Emergency Numbers

  • Police 110
  • Fire/Ambulance 112 

In Case of an Emergency

There are a special accident and emergency department (Notaufnahme), in all hospitals; head for this if you need urgent and immediate medical attention at any time. If there is an emergency at night or on the weekend, you can either go to Notaufnahme (Accident and Emergency) to the nearest hospital or call an emergency doctor (Notarzt). Emergency doctors are listed in local newspapers and yellow pages. 

Health Risks

There are no major health risks in the country. Getting your routine vaccinations ahead of your move should suffice, Check with your doctor for details. Apart from this, preventive health checks for children and those over 35 are highly recommended.