What to do when you fall sick?
An important thing to know when living abroad is what to do if you become ill. While not the happiest topic to think about when preparing to move, it’s a very important one.
To study in any German university, you must have health insurance. Before you worry that this will cost too much, statutory health insurance funds in Germany are obliged to offer favourable student rates to students under 30. If you turn 30 during your studies here, you will continue to be insured however you will have to pay a higher premium rate. Unfortunately if you are older than 29 when you start your studies, you can only take private health insurance. However, if you have health insurance in your home country, there is a chance that it is recognized in Germany. For a full and updated list of countries that have a social security agreement with Germany click here. More information about health insurance in Germany and what you need to know can be found here.
So what are your options if you do become sick during your stay? Well, go to the doctor! As a patient in Germany, you have a right to choose your own doctor. This means you can decide yourself which doctor to consult and which hospital you wish to be treated in. The only condition is that if you are a member of a statutory health insurance fund, your doctor must be registered on the German health insurance panel, in other words, he or she is entitled to settle payments with your health insurance fund. The first time you go to a doctor in a quarterly period, you will have to pay a consultation fee of €10. After this all other visits with the quarterly period are free.
If you need to get some medication you will need to go to a pharmacy or Apotheke in German. These are very common and are distinguished by a large, red “A” on a sign outside the pharmacy. Getting medication in Germany is slightly different than other countries in the fact that many are only available on prescription. Even with a prescription from your doctor, you often have to contribute five to ten euro per medication yourself.
Should you end up in hospital, don’t worry about the costs of your treatment. Your health insurance will cover most, if not all, of your expenses. For other types of treatment such as therapy, medical checkups and in particular dental treatment, you may have to pay a significant amount yourself. If this happens your doctor has to tell you in advance of the treatment and you decide whether to proceed. You should inquire with your health insurer if you have questions.
You can get more detailed information about health insurance from either the Studentenwerk or from the International Office of your college.