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German doctor talking to African patient
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/G. Wendt

Healthcare in Germany

September 21, 2015

Once you've made it to Germany, you can see a doctor - initially only for emergencies, though. Later, health insurance will cover the basics. Learn more about the German health care system here.


Find more information in DW's #link:http://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/germany-guide-for-refugees/s-32486:Germany Guide for Refugees.#

Who do I turn to with health problems and who pays for care?

According to German law, refugees whose asylum process is still ongoing are actually only allowed to see a doctor with accute illness and pain - so only in an emergency.

Before you go to a doctor, you have to request a health certificate from your local welfare office and pick it up there. If you hand in this certificate with the doctor, the welfare office will pay for it.

If you need medication, the welfare office will also pay for that. You take the doctor's prescription to a pharmacy.

Women who are pregnant or have given birth have the same right to medical care as German women.

What is a health insurance chip-card?

In some German cities - like Hamburg and Bremen - refugees are issued a health insurance chip card, or "Gesundheitskarte" right after their arrival. You show it to the doctor and he will get paid directly by the health insurance company.

Every German who has health insurance also has this card. With it, you can go see a doctor without going to the welfare office first.

But not everything is covered for refugees. Special items like glasses or dental prostheses are sometimes double-checked by the insurance company for a long time before they are approved.

If you've been in Germany for longer than 15 months and your asylum request is still being processed, you get entitled to the same statutory health care as Germans.

But even then, health insurance will not (fully) cover glasses, prescription drugs, translators and the costs for the trip to the health care provider. There are exceptions for children, though.

You should always collect for all health-related payments you might make, because the insurance company may reemburse you.

#link:http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/germany/reception-conditions/health-care:Further information on healthcare for refugees in Germany#

#link:http://www.bamf.de/EN/Willkommen/GesundheitVorsorge/KrankheitUnfall/krankheitunfall-node.html:General information on doctor's visits and healthcare in Germany.#

How do I get help with psychological problems?

That is quite hard, especially shortly after your arrival in Germany, since doctor's visits are only allowed in emergencies.

Many doctors are aware of the problem and have addresses for information centers or outreach clinics you can turn to.

#link:http://www.asyl.net/index.php?id=66:Addresses where you can get help.#

#link:http://www.migrationsdienste.org/angebote/psychotherapie.html:This is where you can get a certificate stating you need psychological help# (in German):

#link:http://www.migrationsdienste.org/homeen.html:Information on the organization who helps with these certificates and other psychological issues.#

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