Medical facilities are usually modern and have high quality standards (especially those offering private health services). Staff and doctors are well-trained, and hospitals in Germany offer a great number of special treatments. You can also find many specialized physicians outside hospitals in Germany. Therefore, you don’t even have go to a hospital if you need to see an internist or radiologist. Normally, your general practitioner will write a referral if you are in need of special treatment; it is also your GP (and your GP only) who can send you to one of the many hospitals in Germany. Emergencies are excepted, of course.
Please consider that small private hospitals in Germany might not have an emergency room. When you arrive at a clinic in case of emergency, you will normally receive treatment even if you do not carry a proof of health insurance with you. However, if you do not have any health insurance at all, stay and treatment are going to be very expensive. Please see our articles on health insurance and the German healthcare system for more information. If you decide against a German health insurance plan, check with your insurance company at home whether they will reimburse you for medical treatment at hospitals in Germany.
No matter which kind of insurance you have: If you expect being sent to a hospital, you should enquire which treatments your company covers and which charges it pays for. Usually, hospitals in Germany charge their patients a daily fee of around 10€, in addition to any costs you may incur for diagnostics, surgery, etc. Depending on your personal health insurance plan, all these fees may or may not be reimbursed.
Patients with private healthcare, or a corresponding supplement to their public insurance plan, enjoy a number of other benefits as well. For example, you may stay in a single or double room instead of a small dorm with three or four beds. Moreover, patients with private healthcare can demand to be treated by one of the hospital’s chief physicians. Apart from that, medical treatment is identical, although there are some private clinics that are open only to patients with private health insurance.
Even though your general practitioner admits you to a hospital, they are probably not going to treat you. Only some medical specialists offer their services to nearby hospitals; they take turns working at their own practice and as part of the hospital staff (Belegärzte). If your doctor cannot treat you personally, don’t hesitate to ask if they can recommend you a surgeon. In case your surgery is considered less urgent (e.g. hip replacements) or requires special examinations (e.g. by magnetic resonance tomography), hospitals in Germany may put you on a waiting list.
When you go to hospital (unless it’s an emergency), you need to register at the reception with a proof of health insurance and an ID card or passport. Your bed has already been reserved by your GP.
Despite the mostly excellent facilities, some aspects of hospitals in Germany seem odd to foreigners. For example, there are no curtains around the beds. While receiving treatment in your room, you may be exposed to other patients. Furthermore, hospitals in Germany provide neither pajamas nor towels. You should also remember to bring your bathrobe, toiletries, and a pair of slippers.
Breakfast is rather scarce with a cup of coffee or tea and a few slices of rye-bread. Prepare for early meals. Supper might be served as early as five o’clock. Most hospitals n Germany do have a cafeteria, though, and unless you are on a special diet, you are allowed to have private food and drinks in your room. Visiting hours may vary, and visits by small children are sometimes frowned upon.
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