Immigration. Travel. Living.

Healthcare system in Germany

Doctor healthcare medicine

  • equipping medical facilities with modern equipment;
  • the development of new drugs;
  • stimulation of the medical field in the industry;
  • introduction of new advanced treatment methods;
  • opening of rehabilitation centers and prevention programs.

Another important factor in the high level of medicine in Germany is the long and thorough training of medical specialists and a strong development program.

Citizens Health Insurance

Those who had to deal with the work of the medical system in Germany will confirm that it can be compared with the work of German mechanisms – aimed at maximum return. Health insurance history in Germany begins with its introduction by Chancellor Bismarck back in 1883, and the Germans had time to improve the system.

The main principle of the healthcare system in Germany is the principle of solidarity. Moreover, basic medical care at the same level is available to absolutely all segments of the population, regardless of their income level.

How did they achieve this? Germany has a social health insurance system for all citizens. In 2007 a law that prohibits staying without insurance in Germany was signed.

The following types of insurance are available to citizens:

  • Obligatory state insurance (GKV).

For 2019, the premium rate is 14.6% of income. 50% of the number of contributions is withheld and transferred from the salary of the employee, 50% is paid by the employer. The insurance covers the services of a dentist, outpatient treatment, the cost of drugs and devices.

  • Social insurance.

The right to social insurance is available to all persons who have received the official status of legal stay in Germany if they do not work and receive social benefits. The entire amount of insurance premiums is covered by the state. Social insurance provides the opportunity to consult a doctor, receive inpatient and outpatient treatment, consult a dentist and receive medication.

  • Private insurance (PKV). 

Private health insurance is available only to citizens with annual incomes above 57,600 euro. The amount of contributions is set individually depending on the age and state of health of the citizen. Before making insurance, a full medical examination is carried out.


orange and white prescription bottle

Medicines are sold only in pharmacies (Apotheke). Rare drugs can be bought without a prescription, in most cases, you will need to get a doctor’s prescription. Prescription drugs are partially paid for by the buyer, and partially by the insurance company. Drugs without a doctor’s prescription are purchased in full by the buyer.

German drug prices are regulated by the state. Prescription pharmacies earn no more than 3%.

Hospitals and medical services

Germany has state hospitals, private clinics, and charity hospitals run by religious organizations. As a rule, a general practitioner gives a referral to the hospital, and you should not try to go to the hospital yourself (except in emergency situations). The insurance covers medical expenses in some cases. Hospitalization can be expensive, so you should ask in advance about the cost of treatment.

As a rule, the first visit is made to a general practitioner (Allgemeinarzt). Usually, visits are agreed in advance, for example, by telephone. In the presence of state insurance, you bear almost no expenses: the doctor sends the bills directly to the insurance company.

One of the conditions of treatment in Germany is a 100% prepayment of medical care. The final cost of treatment is determined after discharge from the clinic.

If there is no insurance, you can turn to a charity for free medical care, for example, Medinetz or Malteser, which have representative offices in many cities in Germany.

According to the results of the Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University test, the difference in prices for foreign patients and for patients with state insurance in German clinics can reach 300% for the same operation. You can find a way out of this situation if you turn to a professional medical manager, that is, to a company or an individual who organizes treatment in Germany. The cost of a medical manager’s services can reach 30% of the total cost of medical services rendered. But it pays off. Firstly, the medical manager has experience in dialogues with clinics and, as a rule, he manages in most cases to introduce the patient into the general flow. Let’s compare: to pay 400 euro for gastroscopy plus 120 euro for organizational services or to pay 1,000 euro for the same is a big difference. Secondly, if you are not already in Germany, then you need an invitation for treatment in Germany, which is also handled by a medical manager.

Emergency assistance

white and red ambulance van

If medical assistance is needed when the hospitals are already closed, you can call the doctor on emergency number 112. This number is relevant for all German settlements, the call is free. The ambulance arrives within 15 minutes. Their services are free for those who have insurance. If there is no policy, the size of the account can reach 400 euros. According to the law, doctors in Germany are obliged to help everyone in emergency cases, including patients without medical insurance, however, many doctors, fearing that their work will remain unpaid, refuse to help such patients.

Medical tourism

Many foreigners come to Germany for treatment. University clinics in Aachen, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Munich, Freiburg, and other cities are popular.

Munich, Berlin, Hamburg are the most attractive cities for treatment, large medical centers, and world-famous specialists are located here. For example, in Munich, there are some of the largest German clinics – Großhadern, Rechts der Isar, and LMU University Hospital (Munich University named after Ludwig-Maximilian).

Germany is the European leader in spa treatments. The most famous balneological resorts in Germany are Badenweiler (Baden-Württemberg), Baden-Baden, Bad Kissingen, Bad Reichenhall (Bavaria), Bad Kreuznach (Rhineland-Palatinate), Bad Nauheim, Bad Homburg-vor-der-Hohe, Wiesbaden (Hesse) and Bad Elster (Saxony). Water from local mineral springs is used to treat gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the musculoskeletal system, and also for rejuvenation procedures.

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