Everything expats need to know about available healthcare in Germany

Published:  12 Apr at 6 PM
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Navigating healthcare requirements and availability in a new country is many expats’ worst nightmare, but the German system is reassuringly straightforward.

One of the most important issues for expats, wherever they’re planning to call home, is the availability of healthcare and its bureaucratic requirements. It’s also a subject that’s frequently ignored due to lack of affordability of private insurance or simply not knowing how to go about becoming familiar with local offerings. Fortunately, the German healthcare system has few terrors and offers excellence in all sectors.

New arrivals need to concentrate on finding a local doctor immediately they arrive, rather than leaving it until it’s a medical necessity. The first place to look is your local phone book, as every doctor in the country is listed under Arzte, along with addresses and phone numbers. If you’re lucky enough to have private health insurance along with your contractual benefits, the company may also be able to help you find a local general practitioner via their 24/7 helpline.

Online is another source and most sites are searchable in the English language. University clinics in Germany’s major cities offer hospitalisation as well as outpatient services and are staffed by fully-qualified, often English-speaking medical and surgical professionals. In addition, consulates and embassies may provide lists of bilingual doctors. Surgeries operate their own, often different, opening hours, with some closed on Wednesday afternoons, making an appointment the best idea.

Emergency care provision details are found in most local newspapers under the heading Arztlicher Bereitschaftsdienst (Medical Emergency Service). The service is staffed by on-call GPs in order to handle emergencies when surgeries are closed for the day, and can be dialled on 116 117. A similar list, Arzlicher Notdienst, gives names of all doctors on standby as well as emergency hotline numbers and 24/7 pharmacies. If it’s desperate, simply call a taxi to the nearest emergency room, or dial 112 or 1922 for ambulance services.

Source: The Local Germany
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