Visiting a doctor in Germany: 7 things to know
One of the most significant healthcare systems in the world is recognized to exist in Germany. But when you’re not from the nation, there are some cultural differences that might be difficult to adjust to. Here are some points to consider while visiting a doctor in Germany.
While visiting a doctor, you might have to pay
- If a patient is asked to pay money during a doctor’s appointment, they can be a little confused. If they are used to a healthcare system i.e., free at the point of contact, like the NHS in the UK.
- However, the reality is that not everything in Germany will be covered by your health insurance know how to get it. There are certain additions that are optional and can mean having to take a financial hit.
- For example, many gynecologists may offer to perform a pelvic ultrasound examination as an extra during a Pap smear test. If your insurance does not cover it, they will let you know at the appointment that there will be an additional fee, and it will be up to you to decide if you want to pay it.
Aware of different types of prescriptions
- The fact that there are numerous categories of medications is another thing to be aware of. People with statutory health insurance are often given the prescriptions (Rezepts) that are issued on pink slips. When picking up prescription medications at the pharmacy, people must pay a lower payment, often between €5 to €10.
- In Germany, patients with private insurance are more likely to be handed a prescription slip that is blue in color. Prior to receiving reimbursement from their insurance provider, private clients must pay the entire cost of their medications. If your public health insurance does not cover the procedure, you may also be handed a blue slip.
- The doctor’s recommended course of therapy is listed on green slips. In the meanwhile, the doctor only issues yellow prescriptions that are only good for seven days and are for specific regulated medications.
Waiting area etiquette
Germans might not have a reputation for being very amiable. However, there are a few surprising locations that are warmly friendly. The waiting area at the doctor’s office is one of those locations. Yes, it might be rather unexpected for visitors when they are welcomed with a quick “Guten Morgen!” or “hallo!” in the waiting area. In the waiting area, patients are expected to say hello and farewell politely.
You may face a stern receptionist or doctor
- You’ll probably hear from a group of international residents about how the bedside manner is “different” when they visit a doctor in Germany or another German-speaking nation. This is due to the fact that some medical professionals, including receptionists, can be scary to foreigners because of their straight and harsh manner while dealing with patients.
- If you have to remove part of your clothing for an inspection, it can also be a little strange. You won’t likely be asked to strip behind a curtain or given a robe or towel. In Germany, everything is in the open. Though rest assured that nothing about this is personal. Simply said, it’s a new approach.
The best course of action when dealing with a cranky doctor is to either accept it or find another one.
Be willing to wait
- The majority of Hausarzt (GP) offices in Germany accept walk-in patients during Sprechstunden (consultation hours). This implies that you may just drop by for a two- or three-hour period. It is also first come, first served at certain hours.
- The benefit of this approach is that, as long as you have time to wait, it is feasible to visit a doctor, for instance, on a Wednesday morning without an appointment. But the drop-in strategy might take a lot of time if you’re pressed for time or have a tight timetable. It can need a brief wait of a few minutes or as much as an hour, depending on when you come.
- To obtain a spot towards the front of the line, it is preferable to come just as the doors open. Additionally, you can schedule a Termin. However, even with a reservation, you can expect to wait at least 15 minutes.
Usually, a specialist is recommended to you
In order to be referred to a specialist physician in Germany if you have public health insurance, you often need to see a general practitioner first. There are some situations when you can schedule an appointment without a recommendation, such as with gynecologists and ophthalmologists. You can schedule appointments with experts more readily if you have private insurance.
Visit or call a doctor for a sick note
- A sick note, also known as an Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung or Krankschreibung, is required to be sent to your employer if you are off from work for more than three days. Check your contract or contact HR if your manager seems to be requiring this sick notice sooner.
- In most cases, getting this document requires a visit to your doctor. However, during the pandemic, patients have been able to acquire a sick note over the phone from their GP for moderate respiratory diseases, including Covid-19 in Germany.
German health insurance is quite generous. Additionally, there is typically little to no waiting for elective surgery or diagnostic procedures like MRIs. The majority of Germans take it for granted, although it has one of the greatest healthcare systems in the world. The fundamental considerations to bear in mind while visiting a doctor in Germany are the ones recently discussed.