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Country-by-country guide

Accessing healthcare in Germany

Brandenburg Gate - Germany

Each country’s health system is different and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This may mean that you have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care. You may be able to seek reimbursement for this when you are back in the UK.

If you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Germany, dial 112, which is free from public phones. Accident and Emergency departments in Germany are called "Notaufnahme".

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access state provided healthcare in Germany at a reduced cost or sometimes free. It will cover you for treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

Non-EEA nationals are covered in Germany.

Health services and costs

Make sure you are treated by a state-funded healthcare provider. You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.

German GPs and dental surgeries usually display a sign saying Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen, which indicates they are operating under the state system. You can find GPs (Doktors), dentists (Zahnärzte), pharmacy (Apotheken) or hospitals (Krankenhäuser) via the Gelbe Seiten, which is the German version of Yellow Pages. If you need urgent medication out of hours, you can visit the emergency pharmacy known as the Apotheken-Notdienst.

You are covered with your EHIC in Germany; however you may be asked to pay for your treatment in advance and then seek a refund back in the UK. A standard fee of €10 is to be paid upfront, and often in cash only, for almost all German health services. This is non-refundable in Germany but, again, you may seek reimbursement in the UK.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.

If you move to Germany long-term or plan to work in the country you’ll have to register with one of the gesetzliche Krankenkassen (state health insurance companies). Your insurance company will issue you a Krankenversicherungskarte (health insurance card), which you have to take with you whenever you visit a doctor, dentist or specialist.

Dentists: children under 18 do not have to pay for treatment.

Hospitals: except for emergencies, you’ll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Either provide your EHIC or your German-issued health insurance card at admission. You will have to pay a fixed charge of €10 a day for a maximum of 28 days in a year. Patients up to the age of 18 do not have to pay.

Prescriptions: medicines and bandages prescribed by your GP can be obtained from any pharmacy in exchange for the prescription. You will have to pay 10% of the cost subject to a minimum charge of €5 and a maximum charge of €10. These costs are not refundable. For minor drugs and medicines, such as painkillers and cough mixtures, you may be charged the full amount. Children under 18 do not have to pay a fee for prescriptions.

There are strict regulations about how much and what kind of medications can be imported to Germany. Please see the German customs page for more information.

Ambulance, including air ambulance: you are only covered by your EHIC or German health insurance card in emergencies or if a doctor states that it's needed for medical reasons.

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

Although your EHIC covers the provision of oxygen, renal dialysis and routine medical care, you’ll have to arrange and pre-book medical treatment before you go. Always consult your GP or hospital before travelling. Also, it's important to make sure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider, as those are not covered by your EHIC.

Oxygen therapy

Ensure your EHIC is valid before you travel. In most cases you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. You’ll also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There may also be additional costs that the EHIC will not cover.

Your home oxygen supplier is not required to provide a service outside the UK, however, most suppliers will be able to advices you on what to do. Your oxygen treatment clinic will organise your home oxygen supply from one of these suppliers:

Air Liquid: Call them on:

  • 0808 143 9991 for London
  • 0808 143 9992 for North West
  • 0808 143 9993 for East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for South West

Air Products: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales. Call them on 0800 373 580.

BOC: covers the East and North East of England. Call them on 0800 136 603.

Dolby Vivisol: covers the South of England. Call them on 0500 823 773.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) may have additional oxygen contacts for the country you are travelling to. Their website offers general advice about how to make travel arrangements, including advice on:

Ensure you allow plenty of time to make all your arrangements before you travel.

Dialysis

You need to speak to the co-ordinator in your UK Dialysis Unit who will contact the dialysis unit in Germany nearest to where you will be staying. The provision of dialysis will be subject to availability in Germany.

How to claim refunds

You may be asked to pay your bill upfront and then claim a refund using your EHIC. When you return to the UK, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm). Make sure that you have your National Insurance number and UK bank or building society details to hand.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed for any refund or reimbursement.

You will not be eligible for a refund if you have been treated privately.

Living or working in Germany

German residents are either a member of a gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (state health insurance company) or a Krankenversicherungen (private healthcare scheme). All employees can choose their own health insurance provider. A common fund exists for all other social security components.

The most popular health insurance companies are the AOK, BEK, BKK, DAK and KKH. Your insurance company will issue you a health insurance card, which you have to take with you whenever you visit a doctor, dentist or specialist.

Living in Germany

If you are living in Germany and you're receiving a UK state pension, or are in receipt of long-term incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You’ll need to apply for form S1 (a certificate of entitlements). Once you have registered your S1 with a health insurance company in Germany, you will be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC, allowing you to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries besides the one in which you are resident, including when you return to the UK.

You’ll also have to apply for an S1 form if you move to Germany but don’t work and don’t receive any UK benefits. In this case you may be eligible for up to two-and-a-half years of state healthcare, paid for by the UK.

For applications and advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm). Also, read about living abroad.

Working in Germany

If you are planning to work between two and five years in Germany, your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1: this will show that tax and NI contributions are paid in the UK.
  • S1: this will give you and your family the same medical cover as residents of Germany.

You can write to the following address:

HMRC
Charity, Assets and Residence
Room BP1301
Benton Park View
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

For more information, visit the working abroad section.

Page last reviewed: 17/11/2011

Next review due: 17/11/2013

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