Medical Services in Germany
Information on the hospitals, health clinics, dentists and pharmacies available in Germany...
There are three types of hospitals in Germany including public state hospitals, private not-for-profit hospitals and a small percentage of private for-profit hospitals.
Most operate under the public health care system and so are covered by both state and private insurance companies but it is important to first check before making an appointment. You must be referred to a hospital by a GP unless it is an emergency.
Finding and visiting a doctor
To find a GP (Hausarzt or Allgemeiner Arzt) look in the telephone directory under Ärzte. Children are usually treated by a pediatrician (Kinderarzt). Usually GPs make referrals to a specialist if necessary, but some specialist doctors will take patients without prior referral. Specialists are listed in the Yellow Pages.
There is no obligation to remain with a particular doctor. The German system allows free choice of doctors and if a patient is unhappy with treatment received they are free to find an alternative practice.
Most doctors operate on an appointment system and surgery opening hours (Sprechstunden) are generally every weekday morning, but not every afternoon. The out-of-hours service operates at weekends.
Most doctors in Germany speak some basic English (depending on the area)but do not rely on this. A foreigner in Germany can contact their national embassy or consulate in Germany to request a list of doctors speaking their language.
All health insurance companies provide a plastic ID card which must be presented on visiting a doctor. For people with state insurance the bill is automatically sent to the insurance company, but the patient must pay a €10 fee on the first visit of every quarter of a year. Patients with private insurance must pay for treatment upfront and reclaim the amount from the insurance company.
Dentists (Zahnarzt) can also be found in the Yellow Pages. Dental care is expensive in Germany compared to some other European countries. The reimbursement rate for dental care depends on the insurer and most policies require regular check-ups to be taken otherwise insurance cover may not apply. Before undergoing any major dental treatment it is wise to first check the insurance policy; a dentist can give a quote which should be sent to the insurance company, who will then work out how much can be reimbursed.
For emergency dental treatment in Germany, look in the local newspaper under Notdienst - Zahnarzt.
- Berlin dental emergency service - Tel: 030 8900 4333
- Find a list of local dental emergency services throughout Germany on the Zahnnotdienst website (in German)
Find a 24 hour pharmacy/chemist/drug store
Local newspapers normally list out-of-hours pharmacies under Apotheken-Notdienst. Pharmacies usually display the address of the nearest out-of-hours pharmacy (Notdienst) on the door or window. Out-of-hours pharmacies are often open for long periods; ring the bell for attention. Medication supplied out-of-hours is usually subject to a surcharge.
- All pharmacies and emergency pharmacies can be found on the Apotheke website: select the nearest town
- There is also an emergency pharmacy hotline: 0800 00 22833 from a landline or 22833 from a mobile/cellphone
Emergencies and out-of-hours treatment
For urgent medical treatment out-of-hours go to the nearest Accident & Emergency unit (Notaufnahme) or call an emergency doctor. Emergency doctor services are covered by both public and private insurance. Local newspapers usually list emergency doctor services under Ärztlicher Notdienst or Ärztlicher Bereitschaftsdienst.
- To find an emergency doctor - Tel: 19 242
- Alternatively search online for an emergency doctor
Surgery telephone numbers for doctors' practices usually have an automatic out-of-hours message giving details of doctors on call.
For other medical emergencies call 112. It provides both fire brigade and ambulance (Krankenwagen) services and takes patients to the nearest hospital. Dispatchers usually speak (at least) English and German.
Motorways and other major roads have roadside markers - white posts - with arrows indicating the distance and direction to the nearest emergency telephone.