In Germany, you have free choice of physician. That means you can consult any doctor of your own choosing. Generally, your first port of call will be your family physician.
If you are looking for a family physician or specialist, the following tips may be helpful:
- Check the website of your city/town.
- The Bertelsmann Foundation's White List lists medical practitioners.
- The Doctors' Associations of Baden Wuerttemberg (KVBW) offer you a detailed search function for medical practitioners in your region (only available in German).
- Check the telephone directory or the Yellow Pages under Physicians (Ärzte).
- The British Embassy's website provides an overview of doctors in various regions of Germany.
When you have chosen a family physician, the best thing to do is to call the practice and make an appointment. Family physicians examine you, provide information on vaccines and many other things, and, if necessary, transfer you to a specialist or hospital. Only in emergencies should you go directly to a hospital without a transfer.
We recommend that you start looking for a family physician before you become ill.In general, the costs of consulting a physician are billed directly to your health insurance provider if you are covered by statutory health insurance. That means that the invoice is sent to the health insurance provider, not to you.
If you need medical treatment outside the office hours of your medical practice, you can dial 116 117 for the medical on-call service anywhere in Germany. In emergencies – i.e. potentially fatal situations – you should dial the emergency number 112.
Most medical practitioners are closed on Wednesday, either for half of the day or the entire day.
In Germany, medication is only available in pharmacies. Pharmacies can be identified by their signs which bear a large red A.
If you need medication, there are two ways to obtain it. The first is to visit your physician, who will give you a prescription. You then take this prescription to a pharmacy where you receive your medication. You only have to pay part of the costs for medication which can only be purchased with a prescription; the remainder is paid by your health insurance provider. The second way is to go straight to the pharmacy, where you can buy all freely available medication (i.e. medication for which prescriptions are not required). You have to pay the full price yourself.
Many people from other countries consider the prices of medication in Germany relatively expensive.