Healthcare in Germany

healthcare in germany

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When you’re abroad, the healthcare services you’re able to access will depend on the facilities available, as well as your eligibility to use them. Although Germany does have state-run healthcare facilities, UK citizens can only access funded healthcare in specific situations.

Getting emergency medical help in Germany

Health Insurance Card in GermanyIf you’re seriously hurt or badly injured in Germany, you may require help from the emergency services. To call for an ambulance or fire bridge, you should call 112 from any phone, including a mobile phone. To contact the police in an emergency, you should call 110.

Always make sure you know your location and address, so that you can give these details to the dispatcher. By providing adequate details, the relevant emergency services can find you and administer aid more quickly.

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Paying for emergency medical care in Germany

Anyone who needs emergency medical assistance in Germany will receive the care they need, but you may be charged for your treatment. As a UK citizen, you will benefit from reduced fees if you have a valid European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC. Under the EHIC scheme, some medical treatment may be free but, in most cases, an EHIC will significantly reduce the cost medical treatment.

However, an EHIC is only applicable to UK citizens who are staying in Germany temporarily. If you’re a tourist on holiday and you need medical help, for example, your EHIC should entitled you to reduced fees at a state-run medical facilities.

A European Health Insurance Card won’t cover all procedures or medical treatments, so you can’t rely on it to reduce any or all of your medical fees. An EHIC won’t cover:

• Treatment which can be delayed until you return to the UK
• The cost of transporting you back to the UK
• Treatment aboard a cruise
• Mountain rescue services
• Treatment in a privately-run medical facility

Seeking medical advice from your travel rep

If you’re staying in a hotel or on an all-inclusive holiday, you may seek initial advice from your travel rep. Although a travel representative may be able to provide you with useful local information, such as where the nearest hospital is, there’s no guarantee that they will give you the details of state-run medical facilities.

Check with your rep that the information they’re providing is applicable to state-run medical care before you seek help. If you’re sent to a private healthcare facilities, the fees won’t be covered by an EHIC, even if you could have obtained the same treatment at a state-run clinic or hospital.

Travel insurance in Germany

If you’re a UK citizen and you’re travelling to Germany on a temporary basis, it’s advisable to have travel insurance in place. Although your EHIC will enable you to access subsidised medical care in state-run facilities, it doesn’t cover everything and it may only partially reduce the fees of the care it does cover. As a result, you could still face a relatively large bill for medical fees, even if you have a valid EHIC with you.

By obtaining travel insurance, you can choose the type of policy you require. If you’re planning on going on an action-packed trip full of sports and exploration, you may want to opt for a policy which includes the cost of search and rescue, for example.

In addition to this, travel insurance policies can cover a whole range of treatments, as well as the cost of bringing you back to the UK, if it’s required. By choosing your own policy, you can ensure that you have access to comprehensive coverage and that your medical bills will be fully covered.

Using a Provisional Replacement Certificate in Germany

Whenever you’re travelling in Europe, it’s important to take a valid EHIC with you. If you forget your card or lose it, however, you may be able to obtain a PRC, or provisional replacement certificate. This will confirm that you’re eligible to receive treatment under the EHIC scheme and you should still be able to access reduced-cost or free healthcare.

The UK Overseas Healthcare Services can send a copy of your PRC to the relevant hospital or medical facility treating you but you will need to contact them via telephone, during 8am-6pm UK time on weekdays:

Calls from within the UK: 0191 218 1999

Calls from outside the UK: (+44) 191 218 1999

Getting help for a pre-existing medical condition in Germany

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can still access subsidised healthcare in Germany via your EHIC. However, you won’t be able to use your EHIC for any treatment if you have travelled to Germany specifically to obtain medical treatment.

Furthermore, travel insurers don’t always provide cover for pre-existing conditions. If you’re buying an insurance policy, you must tell your insurer about any pre-existing conditions or you won’t be able to claim back the cost of related medical fees.

In addition to this, you may need to prove that you’re well enough to travel before you’ll be able to rely on your EHIC or travel insurance policy. Anyone who has a pre-existing medical condition is advised to contact their doctor or physician before travelling to Europe.

Getting dental treatment in Germany

Routine dental treatment, such as a check-up or minor filling, won’t be covered by your EHIC. If you visit a dentist in Germany under these circumstances, you will be expected to pay for your treatment in full.

However, if you need to access dental treatment in Germany due to illness or injury, and your treatment can’t be postponed, your EHIC should cover some or all of the cost.

If you have a travel insurance policy, your insurer may also cover the cost of urgent dental treatment while you’re in Germany.

Getting non-urgent hospital treatment in Germany

If your condition isn’t considered to be urgent, you’ll need to be referred by a doctor in order to receive treatment in a German hospital. You will need to present a valid European Health Insurance Card or German health insurance card before you’re admitted for treatment. You will also need to pay a fee of €10 per day up to a maximum of 28 days per year if you are over the age of 18.

Remember – your EHIC will only apply for treatment received in state-run facilities and not at private clinics, hospitals or surgeries. Travel insurance policies often carry the same stipulation so it’s vital you check where you’re receiving treatment from or you could be forced to pay the fees in full yourself.

Getting a prescription in Germany

If a doctor prescribes you medication or medical equipment, such as bandages or dressings, you will be able to obtain them from a pharmacy. Patients over the age of 18 are required to pay towards the cost of their prescription. Usually, this is set at 10% of the cost, with a minimum charge of €5 and a maximum charge of €10.

However, if you are prescribed relatively minor medications, you may be charged the full amount when you collect your prescription. This may apply to medications like paracetamol or cough syrup, which can often be purchased cheaply without the need for a prescription.

Bringing medication to Germany

If you’ve been prescribed medication in the UK, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to travel to Germany with it. Some drugs are controlled, and this means you’ll need a licence in order to take it abroad with you.

Before you travel to Germany, check whether any of your prescribed medication is banned or considered to be a controlled substance. Even if it is not, it is advisable to take a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor with you, as well as documents which confirm your identity.

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Using an EHIC after the UK leaves the EU

For UK citizens, a valid EHIC will still work whilst the UK remains in the EU. After this, however, it is unlikely that European Health Insurance Cards belonging to UK citizens will still be accepted by German-run medical facilities.

As no decisions regarding access to European healthcare services after the UK leaves the EU have been publicised, it is advisable to assume that your EHIC won’t work once the UK has left the EU.

As a result, you will notbe able to access free, reduced-cost or subsidised medical treatment in Germany. Regardless of the severity of your illness or injury, or the type of facility you visit, you will need to pay for the cost of the treatment you receive.

Due to this, it’s vital that UK citizens travelling to Germany obtain valid travel insurance policies. They will supplement your coverage whilst the EHIC scheme is still available to UK citizens and provide essential insurance cover once the UK has left the EU.

Living and working in Germany

If you are emigrating to Germany or will be living, studying or working in the country for a significant period of time, you will need to register with the German authorities. In addition to this, you will need to apply for a German health insurance card and register with a health-insurance fund if you want to be able to access state-funded healthcare services. If your application is successful, you should be able to access state-run services in the same way as German citizens.

Employees of German companies are able to choose their insurance provider but they will need to take documentation to every medical or dental appointment in order to obtain free or reduced-cost medical care.

Alternatively, if you are working in Germany but are employed by a UK-based company, your healthcare may be funded by the UK whilst you’re abroad. In order to check whether you’ll have access to UK-funded healthcare, it’s advisable to contact HMRC before you travel to Germany. Additionally, this type of funding may cease when the UK leaves the EU. As plans stand, employees who work for UK-based companies but are posted to Germany will be entitled to join a statutory health insurance scheme within 3 months of the UK leaving the EU, but they may be required to pay a financial contribution.

Applying for an S1 Certificate of Entitlement

UK citizens who are living, studying or working in Germany may need to apply for an S1 certificate in order to access healthcare services in Germany. If you have a valid S1 certificate, your medical treatment will be funded by the UK government.

However, you’ll need to have worked and paid the relevant contributions in the UK and/or be receiving an exportable benefit, such as an exportable pension, in order to be eligible to obtain an S1 certificate.

UK citizens can apply for an S1 Certificate of Entitlement via the UK Business Services Authority and it is advisable to apply for an S1 certificate before you leave the UK.

Whilst the UK remains in the EU, your S1 certificate should remain valid. However, it is unclear what will happen once the UK has left. It is possible the UK citizens will no longer be able to use or rely on S1 certificates once the UK has left the EU.

Getting medical treatment as a pensioner in Germany

EHIC for pensioner in GermanyIf you’ve retired to Germany or are a UK citizen of pensionable age living in Germany, the UK government may fund the healthcare you receive. Pensioners are required to have valid S1 certificates in order to access UK-funded healthcare in Germany.

As highlighted above, the S1 certificate may no longer be valid once the UK leaves the EU, and this would prevent pensioners from accessing UK-funded healthcare services in Germany.

According to current plans, UK pensioners living in Germany will be entitled to join a statutory health insurance scheme within 3 months of the UK leaving the EU but a contribution may be required. If these plans are confirmed, this provision will only apply to pensioners who are already living in Germany and not those who plan to emigrate after the UK has left the EU.

Accessing healthcare in Germany

Although Germany has numerous medical facilities and offers world-class treatment, obtaining medical care when you’re abroad can be confusing and overwhelming. With current schemes in jeopardy due to the UK leaving the EU, subsidised or free healthcare which is currently available via an EHIC or S1 certificate, may no longer be available to UK citizens.

Due to this, people living or working in Germany are generally advised to join a statutory health insurance fund and/or obtain private healthcare insurance, whilst people travelling to Germany on a temporary basis should obtain comprehensive travel insurance before they leave the UK.