Plan for unplanned: From health insurance to registering in a physician’s office

Tips on how to find a doctor in Germany and how to make an appointment.

Assuming that we are all students here, regardless of which degree we are studying, we all have to register for health insurance. Actually, we all remember the very first days at university for registration, we all needed to register for compulsory health insurance. In this regard that you are reading this article on a university blog I assume that we all have some health insurance by now. So, let's talk about the very first steps after getting your health insurance. Then we'll talk about what is covered and what is not covered by health insurance.  

A quick reminder if you ever confused about all the terms you heard about the medical doctor’s titles, here in this article and in Germany in general, General Practitioner (GP), family doctor and physicians referred as Allgemeinarzt or in a most common way, Hausarzt. And, because of this, I decided to refer all of this terms as Hausarzt in this article.

First off, some or a good number of students just do the formalities and register or get health insurance coverage and leave it like it is and hoping that they will not need it. But this is not the case all the time. There are days that you feel not good at all either it is a minor headache or a serious problem. So, it is not wise to wait and then search for a physician nearby. Of course, if you have an emergency or you have an acute pain you can go directly to a physician’s office or clinic without an appointment but this might not be the thing you look forward to.

In another hand, you will not be in the mood of searching for a Hausarzt while you are in pain or in emergency. Even in this case they strongly emphasize that you make an appointment before you leave the home. Otherwise, you have to wait for a long time in a clinic or maybe they will ask you some questions and redirect you to the right person or specialist. What should we do then?

The answer is simple, find a family doctor and register for him/her and whenever you are in an emergency or even if you want to visit a doctor you will get an appointment within a week and if it is emergency then within a couple of hours. But the question is how?

First and foremost, Hausarztpraxis (doctor's office) should be in your neighborhood or close to where you live. They can easily refuse your request if your residence is not in the same region as the doctor's office. So, the initial step, search for the physicians or general practitioner in your neighborhood. You can simply search for the Hausarzt keyword and you will see plenty of them near you. Then, you write an email or call their office and ask about your request for being your Hausarzt. The second way is that if you already wanted to visit a doctor for a problem you had, you make an appointment with them and over there you ask to become your Hausarzt.

Once you are found, you will be asked to sign a form for your family doctor and also for your health insurance mentioning that you are registered in one of the family doctor’s offices. From now on, your Hausarzt will open a tab for you and all your health and medical information will be stored there. Even if you need to visit a specialist, your Hausarzt should know about your problem and then they can refer you to a specialist and the specialist will send a report of their tests and observations to your Hausarzt.

Usually, health insurance companies have their own comprehensive list that what they cover and what sorts of the things they don’t cover. But in general, health insurance companies in Germany pay for medical and dental treatment, hospital treatment and sickness benefits. For drugs, therapies (massages, physiotherapy, etc.) and assistive equipment (wheelchairs, walking aids, etc.), they pay a large part of the costs.

This might be a little different between Germany and other countries because here, for dentists you do not need to have another insurance. But remember that this insurance will only cover basic treatments such as tooth removal, simple tooth filling and pain treatments when you visit the dentists. For instance, for filling the tooth with higher quality materials, you should pay the extra fee, which is partially covered by insurance and you will pay the rest on your own. For having broad choices, you may register for extra dental health insurance. It is not necessary and nor recommended if you think that you will not need more than basic treatments. Extra dental insurance can cover everything related to the teeth treatments such as dental crown and implants. 

You should keep in mind that most of the health insurances have some bonus packages or programs that allows you to spend money on your health-related costs and get the refund from insurance. These programs have different names such as health account (Gesundheitskonto) or grants (Zuschüsse). For instance, the most common thing that a lot of students are taking benefit of these health account is the registration for a gym (Fitnessstudio). With the health account of your health insurance, your registration fees for gym will be completely or mostly refunded or you can buy health-related equipment such as fitness tracker and apply for refund. 

When you go with a prescription from your Hausarzt or specialist to a pharmacy you usually pay a small amount of it by cash (around 5 Euros depending on your prescription) and the rest is covered. That's simple!

If you are over 30 and you have private health insurance, it is a little bit different, in this case you pay everything and then send all the prescription to your insurance and then they reimburse the costs to your bank account.

Usually, you will be asked just a few sentences to make an appointment. These sentences are including:

  1. I want to make an appointment.
    Then you will be asked if you are registered for that Hausarzt or not
  2. What is your pain or issue.
    You will need to talk briefly about your pain, for example: pain in the leg or headache
  3. Your name and date of birth.
    And that’s it! You will get an appointment. Don’t forget to bring your insurance card on the appointment day.

As it is mentioned, you will just need three to four sentences to make the appointment but if you can't manage even these sentences, there is always the option of writing an email to a Hausarzt. You can simply use google translate or deepl.com to write the above-mentioned sentences for booking an appointment.

From my experience, with Hausarzt I did not have any communication problems regarding the language because the vast majority of them can speak fluent English especially near Campus Vaihingen and Campus City Center, you can easily switch to English if you are not comfortable or not confident about your German level. For me personally, I wanted to discuss medical issues in detail and because of that I always asked doctors to explain the issue in English.

From my personal experience, I stayed for a minor surgery on my leg in a clinic in Esslingen. The treatment I received by all the nursing staff was absolutely top notch. They were all incredibly friendly, caring, polite, informative and helpful. The doctor's explanations and manner were precise that I actually was left with no questions to ask. Although the process which was started much before the surgery, everything was straight forward. I know that it was my sole experience and this may not apply for all of the cases.  

Masoud

Comments

Younes Adam

August 23, 2021 2:59:25 PM

Nice article , I am younes , I leave in Morocco , I study in the years in university , I read all this article , was full of information , if I can the next year's 2022 coming to study " "master " in this university , with scroller ship , I will activate or visiting the Haurzart . " I study English too for " " 
tofel test . Vielen dank

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