Choosing a Doctor
If you have a headache, fever, or feel under the weather, your first stop will be to see a general practitioner (GP), or Hausarzt. These doctors can recommend treatment for most common illnesses and will refer you to a specialist if required. If you already know that your illness needs to be treated by a specialist, such as a dermatologist, you can contact these specialists directly without seeing a general practitioner first.
You are generally free to choose any doctor or hospital in Germany that you like, as long as they accept your health insurance. Doctors in private practice can be extremely expensive, so you’ll want to check that they’ll take the regular insurance first.
When searching for a suitable doctor, it might be useful to ask friends for recommendations. You can also search online via the yellow pages or local directory (both in German) to find medical practices in your area. All health insurance companies offer online research tools to find doctors and specialists in your region (key word: Arztsuche).
If you’re not that comfortable speaking German, you can certainly find a doctor that can hold a consultation in English and possibly even your native tongue. Munich is a big city with lots of international residents.
Making an Appointment
Many general practitioners in Germany have an open-door policy, meaning that patients can simply turn up to be treated. However, it’s strongly recommended that you make an appointment in person or by telephone before you go because waiting times can be long. Sometimes you may have to wait a day or two to get an appointment. Take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC, valid for acute illnesses only) or insurance card to your appointment. If you have private insurance coverage, you will first have to pay all bills and then be reimbursed later.
Drugs and Medication
Medicine is normally sold by pharmacies (Apotheken). Drug-dispensing laws are very strict in Germany. This means that many medicines that may be prescription-free in your home country (such as painkillers, for example) can only be purchased on prescription here. The regular German health insurance will cover the costs of most prescription drugs, but you may have to pay a prescription fee at the pharmacy.
In an Emergency
What do you do if you suddenly get ill at night, on the weekend, or on a national holiday? Don’t worry! There are always emergency services and pharmacies available to help you. Try calling your regular doctor first if the emergency isn’t life-threatening. If they are not available, there is usually a recorded message in place that refers you to the number for an emergency doctor. Alternatively, you could go straight to the nearest hospital or emergency room in case of an emergency.
Emergency numbers (Notdienste) can be found here: