The German healthcare system is considered one of the most efficient in the world. Medical facilities and standards are excellent, with a national network of hospitals and clinics providing extensive care. All residents of Germany are entitled to German healthcare, although there are no subsidised services and health insurance is required by law.
Four different principles make up the healthcare system:
- Compulsory insurance. All German residents must have statutory health insurance called gesetzliche Krankenversicherung. Anyone who earns more money than the fixed gross income can choose to have private insurance.
- Funding through insurance premiums. The healthcare system is financed from premiums paid by insured employees and employers. Tax revenues also contribute to the healthcare system, which helps to make healthcare free for those not working & affordable for those who are.
- Principle of Solidarity. Everyone covered by statutory insurance has an equal right to medical care and continued payment of wages when you fall ill. The premiums paid by German residents are based on their income. This means that the rich can assist the poor and the healthy can help the ill.
- Principle of self-governance. The German state sets the standard for medical care for its citizens, but further organisation and financing of individual medical services is the responsibility of self-governing bodies within the health care system. The Federal joint committee is the highest entity of self-governance within the statutory health insurance system.
Outpatient care in Germany is mainly provided by self-employed doctors, dentists, psychotherapists, and other healthcare practitioners. Most doctors have statutory health insurance accreditation that enables them to treat anyone with statutory health insurance.
If you were to fall ill once you relocate to Germany, you will more than likely see your family doctor who will then refer you to a specialist you might need. There are many joint practices and medical care centres in Germany with two or more doctors that work together to provide their services. Outpatient care also includes medical care received in the hospital or a psychiatric institution, that does not involve an overnight stay.
Those who are self-employed and business owners must pay their own contributions in full. For those who are unemployed or eligible for benefits, this is covered by the state. Applying for public health insurance is relatively straightforward. Once you have chosen a specific insurer, simply apply online or make an appointment with a regional office. The HR department of most large companies can assist with this process too and will be familiar with the state German health system.
Private Health Insurance for German Healthcare
Individuals who earn more than the €4,687.50 per month can opt for private health insurance, as well as German Civil Servants and those who are self-employed. Private health insurance is more costly and the application will require proof of income, a medical test and providing a detailed medical history. Most employers do not offer assistance with this process. Those with private insurance do not necessarily receive superior care, but waiting times are dramatically shorter.
Seeing a Dentist in Germany
Most dental work in Germany is relatively costly, and insurance companies will usually require a cost estimate prior to the patient receiving treatment. Most insurance companies will make a strict distinction between necessary medical treatment and cosmetic procedures, and will not always deem treatment necessary (or cover it). This will vary depending on an individual’s type of coverage within the German healthcare system. Many Germans choose to take out an additional dental insurance option (known as Zahnzusatzversicherung or Zahnschutz-Zusatzversicherung). There are many English-speaking dentists in Germany.
For medicines and prescriptions you can go to a pharmacy (Apotheke) which will be identifiable by a noticeable red letter “A”. Those with public health insurance pay around 10% of the cost of the medication – which can be expensive in Germany.
Emergency Services Numbers:
Ambulance – 112
Fire – 112
Police – 112