Healthcare in Germany
Germany has a reputation for having one of the best and most comprehensive health care systems in the world, providing its residents with health, sick pay and long-term nursing care. Although healthcare in Germany isn’t free, the insurance coverage is so universal that no one lives in fear of hefty medical bills. The vast majority of the population pay into a state insurance scheme, the Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV). There are around 100 non-profit insurers to choose from, but they all regulated by the state and offer similar policies. Your employer pays half of the costs of the premiums. The healthcare system in Germany is well-funded; it spends over 11% of its GDP on health. Waiting times are so low they don’t even record the data! The patient is king in Germany, a lot of the time they decide when, and they decide where they want their treatment.
Doctors in Germany
Your family doctor in Germany provides primary care. Choosing the right GP is important. It is a good idea to ask for personal recommendations from colleagues or neighbours. You may prefer a doctor in Germany who is prepared to speak to you in English, or you'd better be prepared to learn a few simple phrases in German. Communicating with doctors in Germany can be different from what you are used to. They are under no obligation to give you detailed explanations of diagnosis, treatments, or risks. If you want to know something, you’re going to have to ask, so have your questions prepared beforehand. Your GP will refer you to a specialist at a hospital should you need one, but it is also possible to contact a specialist directly. There is a lot of patient autonomy in Germany. You have the right to choose your doctor and treatment yourself.
Medicine in Germany
A network of pharmacies issues medicine in Germany. Sometimes attached to a health clinic or a hospital, they are recognisable by the big red "A" or a green cross. There is strict control over medicines in Germany; many drugs you can buy over the counter in other countries are only available with a prescription. Prescription drugs are generally covered by the state insurance scheme, although you may have to pay a partial fee. The pharmacies are under pressure to search for the cheapest generic form of the drug available, so you are unlikely to be given a brand name drug. Brand name medicines in Germany may be covered if you have private health insurance. You pay upfront and then claim a reimbursement from your insurance provider. Herbal medicines are also considered drugs; they are subject to regulation and are sold only in registered pharmacies.
Health Insurance in Germany
Health insurance in Germany is mandatory. Everyone must sign up with a public or a private health insurer. If you earn less than €62,550 per year, you must pay into the state scheme. Your employer pays 50% of the premiums, which come out of your salary automatically. This insures you for all healthcare, basic dental treatment, and sick pay if you cannot work because of illness. You can always take out supplementary insurance to cover you for more extensive dental care, optical care or for travelling abroad. If you are a high earner, you can opt-out of the state scheme and take out private health insurance. This will allow you access to private hospitals, doctors and shorter waiting times. You will receive the same care as patients in the public system, but with better accommodation. It is worth shopping around for a package which suits your individual needs.
Healthcare in Germany – Mundialz
Mundialz understands the complexities of moving abroad. That’s why we try to answer all the questions you may have about living in Germany and working in Germany. Your engineering career can take you all over the world if you let it. Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back.