There are around 2.000 hospitals (Krankenhäuser) in Germany, all offering a high standard of medical care. Most hospitals will accept all patients, regardless of the kind of health insurance you have. Smaller hospitals may be specialised in only a few different disciplines, while larger ones usually offer a wide variety of care, research and training.
Types of hospitals in Germany
There are three main types of hospital in the German healthcare system:
Public hospitals (öffentliche Krankenhäuser)
Public hospitals (öffentliche Krankenhäuser) are publicly-funded, either by the federal government (Bundesregierung), federal states (Bundesländer), or municipalities. This type of hospital includes teaching hospitals affiliated with German universities. Public hospitals make up around 30% of all hospitals in Germany but provide 50% of hospital beds.
Charitable hospitals (frei gemeinnützige Krankenhäuser)
Charitable hospitals (frei gemeinnützige Krankenhäuser) are run by religious, voluntary and charitable organisations such as the German Red Cross.
Private hospitals (Privatkrankenhäuser)
Private hospitals (Privatkrankenhäuser or Krankenhäuser in privater Trägerschaft) are managed by sole traders or corporations who hold a special operating licence. Some will only accept private patients.
Staying at a German hospital
Unless it is an emergency that requires a visit to the A&E department, you can usually only access a German hospital via a referral from a doctor. If it is not a medical emergency, you also have the right to choose your hospital, i.e. one that can provide specialist care for your particular condition.
Most hospitals in Germany have single-sex, multi-bed wards; you can sometimes pay extra for a private or semi-private room. If you have private health insurance this can be included in your coverage, in return for higher premiums. Note that in German hospital wards there is rarely a curtain around the bed.
When you arrive at the hospital, make sure you have your health insurance card (Gesundheitskarte) with you. Patients are also expected to bring their own nightwear, towels and toiletries. Visiting hours are usually between 2 and 8 pm.
Hospital costs in Germany
Hospital treatment in Germany is almost entirely covered by health insurance. If you have statutory health insurance you may have to pay an additional charge of 10 euros per day, for a maximum of 28 days per year. Children under 18 are exempt from this charge.
Patients who are privately insured will either bill their health insurance company directly or pay first and then claim back the cost. If you do not have health insurance you will have to pay upfront.
How to find a hospital
You can find your local hospital in the Deutsches Krankenahus directory.