Finding a doctor and making an appointment
If you need to see a doctor for a routine appointment or in relation to a non-urgent issue, you should look for a Hausarzt or Allgemeinarzt. These are equivalent to a family physician in the US or a GP in the UK and can give you a referral to see a specialist if needed.
How to find a doctor of choice in Germany
If you have public health insurance, you need to find a Kassenarzt – a doctor who accepts patients with public health insurance. The National Association of Public Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) offers an online tool (in German only) to help this search.
You can ask your health insurance provider for a list of recommended doctors to be save. Also you can search local doctors on the internet by searching "Hausarzt". Sometimes it helps to enter your postcode as well.
All doctors accept patients with private health insurance and usually give them priority. You can contact your insurance provider to obtain a list of suitable doctors near you. With ottonova, you can also use our digital Concierge service.
Reasons why you should register with a Hausarzt in Germany
If you suddenly don't feel well you go to the nearest doctor's office, but there you are told that before you can be treated by a specialist you need a referral from your family doctor. If you had registered with a GP before this, there would have been less problems.
In Germany, a family doctor is needed if you want access to all the doctors you need or if you have a medical emergency. They know your medical records and can send you to the right specialist if needed. So if you want to be well covered regarding your health care in Germany, it is important to find a suitable family doctor in Germany.
How to find a family doctor in Germany
Family Doctors can also be called "Hausarzt". You can find them the same way as other doctors for example via the Internet. During the first appointment, the doctor likes to know the full history of any patient before they decide the way of treatment.
Choosing the right doctor for you
If you opt for private medical insurance, you will be able to choose from all the doctors in your area. This makes it more likely you will find a doctor who speaks English – in fact, most have a decent command of the language.
It also means you can choose between different levels of doctor:
- Stationsarzt (ward physician)
- Belegarzt (inpatient physician)
- Chefarzt (chief physician) – perhaps the best choice if you have a complex condition
Seeing a specialist (Facharzt) in Germany
If you need to see a specialist you most likely need to get a GP first. With some private health insurances allows you to make an appointment with a specialist right away. If you need more information about that ask your health insurance provider.
How to make an appointment with a doctor in Germany
There are a few options to make an appointment with a doctor in Germany. You can do it by telephone or also in person - the first person you will talk to is the doctor's assistant and request a day and time. With some doctors, there is also the possibility to make an appointment online or per E-Mail.
If it's urgent to get an appointment some doctors offers walk-in appointsments called "Sprechzeiten". But the waiting time could be several hours.
Reminder: Always bring your health insurance card to all doctor appointments!
What should be considered
- Language barrier: Especially when it comes to medical issues, it is important that doctor and patient understand each other without any issues. Therefore, it should be checked in advance which languages the doctor can speak in order to get the best treatment.
- Acceptance of your health insurance: Before you make an appointment with a doctor, make sure he or she also accepts your insurer. If you have private insurance, any doctor is likely to accept you.
What must be considered at the appointment?
- Don't be late: In Germany, it is important to be on time, and this also applies to medical appointments. If you are late, you may not be taken and someone else may get your appointment.
If you think you will be late, just call the doctor's office again and inform them that you will be slightly late, then they can act accordingly and the appointment can usually still be kept.
- bring your insurance card: It is important that you bring your insurance card to all doctor's appointments so that the doctor can charge the insurer correctly for the medical services and that you do not have any problems with this.
Other benefits of private health insurance
In addition to being able to choose the right doctor for you, private health insurance holders also benefit from
- Better accommodation with more privacy
- A wider range of covered treatments
- Access to private clinics
Private insurance is often more affordable in Germany than elsewhere. At ottonova, we have a range of special expat tariffs that offer excellent coverage and benefits.