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The German healthcare system

The German healthcare system

The German healthcare system

The German healthcare system covers three main areas:

  • Outpatient care (e.g. visiting the doctor or dentist in their own practice)
  • Inpatient care (e.g. treatment in a hospital)
  • Rehabilitation (e.g. physiotherapy or psychological therapy)

The healthcare system is funded by a mixture of employee and employer social security contributions and government subsidies and is run by both public and profit-making healthcare providers, insurance schemes, regulatory bodies and the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit).

German health insurance

Having health insurance is compulsory in Germany. Once you register as a resident, you will need to take out health insurance, even if you already have an existing policy that covers you in Germany.

Doctors & GPs

Doctors & General Practitioners (GPs) will be your first port of call if you become ill in Germany. They can treat most minor ailments and provide referrals to specialists and hospitals, where necessary.

Hospitals in Germany

If you require urgent or more specialist care, you may be referred to a hospital. Hospitals in Germany can be publicly-, privately- or charitably-funded and usually treat all patients, regardless of which type of health insurance you have.

Pharmacies & Medicine

If you get a prescription for medication from your doctor, you will need to fill it at your local pharmacy. Pharmacies in Germany also sell a range of over-the-counter medicines. 

Dentists in Germany

Dentistry in Germany is semi-privatised, meaning that basic treatments are usually covered by health insurance, but patients will have to pay extra for more major or cosmetic treatments. It is also possible to purchase additional insurance to cover a wider range of dental care. Dentists and dental care providers in Germany will usually only accept either publicly- or privately-insured patients, but some will accept both.  

Read also

  • General Practitioners (GPs) & Doctors in Germany (Hausarzt)

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    Find out about dentistry in Germany: find a German dentist, how much dentistry costs, what dental care is covered by health insurance & emergency dentists.
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    How to get medicine in Germany: filling your prescription at a German pharmacy (Apotheke), prescription and over the counter medicines costs, pharmacy opening hours.
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    An overview of health insurance in Germany, including statutory and private health insurance, foreign health insurance and student health insurance.
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