General Information

Every person in Germany has the right of a primary medical health care in the event of an acute or chronic illness, pregnancy or pain.

After registering with the health insurance company, you can go to a doctor with your insurance card. On this page you will find general information about health insurance, doctors, medicines and costs that you have to pay yourself.

Contents on this page

Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung)

All people in Germany must have health insurance. As soon as you have a residence permit, you must register with a health insurance company. You will get an insurance card there. Show this card to your doctor or the hospital. In most cases, the costs are then paid by the health insurance company.

  • When you are ill and unable to work.
  • When you want to go to a doctor.
  • When you need a dentist.
  • When you need to go to the hospital.
  • When you need medicine.
  • Some health insurance companies pay also for sport so that you stay healthy.

Children and spouses do not pay any contribution. They have free health insurance. It’s called: family insurance (Familien-Versicherung).

Medical Practices (Arztpraxis)

General Practitioner and Family Doctor (Hausarzt/Hausärztin)

A general practitioner is the first person responsible for all diseases. There is a free choice of doctor in Germany. You can choose your general practitioner/family doctor. You can talk to the general practitioner about any health issue or problem. The doctor will examine you, does a first examination and decides on further treatment.

If you need a treatment by a specialist, your doctor then will write a referral (Überweisung).

Medical Specialist (Facharzt/Fachärztin)

Medical specialists are specialized in a medical field and take over the further treatment after referral from the general practitioner.

There are also doctors who do not require a referral. You can easily make an appointment for a check-up or if you have problems:

  • Gynaecologist (Frauenarzt/Frauenärztin)
  • Pediatrician (Kinderärztin/Kinderarzt)
  • Ophthalmologist/ Eye specialist (Augenärztin/Augenarzt)
  • Dentist (Zahnärztin/Zahnarzt)
  • ENT Doctor (Ear, nose and throat) – (Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Ärztin/Arzt)

Pharmacies and Medicines

In Germany, almost all medicines are only available in pharmacies and not in other shops or in the doctor’s office. Not everyone can buy all medicines. For example, If you need antibiotics, your doctor will give you a prescription. You can pick up your medicines with this prescription from any pharmacy. Even with a prescription, not all medications are free. The health insurance covers part of the costs and you have to pay a part of it yourself. For children, all costs are covered.

If you spend more than 2% of your gross income on medication, hospital treatment or any other services you can contact your health insurance company and apply for an exemption of the co-payment. Please keep and save all the invoices! If you receive money from the job center you can apply once you have spent more than 100 €. After that, you won’t have to pay for the costs for the year.

If everything is closed and you need medication at night or on Sunday, there is always a pharmacy nearby that has an qmergency service. However, it would be more expensive than normal. There is a sign in all pharmacies that shows where you can find the nearest open pharmacy. You can also see here which pharmacy has emergency service: