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Navigating Healthcare in Germany: Appointments, Referrals, and BARMER Insights!


Date06 Feb 2024


Curious about making doctor appointments and accessing healthcare in Germany? 

Join us as we explore the process of scheduling appointments, visiting medical specialists, and get insights into how BARMER can help expedite the process.  Discover if referrals are needed, how hospital visits work, and get clarity on medical expenses. Your guide to a seamless healthcare experience awaits! 

How do I make an appointment with a doctor?

Call the practice. The doctor’s staff will advise you on the best time to visit. Some doctors’ practices in Germany have an open consultation time called a Sprechstunde, where you can visit the doctor without an appointment. However, most doctors work on an appointment only schedule. For your convenience, some doctors also offer appointments via an online booking system.

Can I visit a medical specialist without a referral?

Yes. You can visit some medical specialists without a referral – but in Germany, your GP, gynecologist, dentist or pediatrician are still the recommended first points of contact to coordinate all your future healthcare needs.

Can BARMER organize faster appointments with medical specialists?

Yes. If you need to see a medical specialist and your waiting time is too long, the BARMER Teledoktor can help you to organize a faster appointment with our exclusive Waiting Time Management service for BARMER members. In some cases, a specialist may not be available in your immediate area, but we will always find the closest possible option for you.

Do I need a referral to visit a hospital?

In most cases, yes. In Germany, a doctor will refer you for hospital treatment, but you are free to choose which public hospital you are treated in. In an emergency, paramedics will decide if you need to be treated at a hospital or not.

Do I need to pay at the doctor?

No. As a BARMER member, you don’t need to pay anything when you visit a doctor who is registered within the public health insurance system. Everything that is medically necessary is billed directly to BARMER via your e-health card. If you choose an additional treatment that is not covered under public healthcare, some extra costs may arise, but your doctor will inform you in advance. This way, you can decide what is best for you. An example is dental fillings: A special high-end material may require an additional cost – but the standard quality material is always free. In some cases, however, small co-payments are required for healthcare services.

When do I need to make a co-payment?

Only sometimes. Statutory co-payments between 5 and 10 euro are required for some healthcare services, for example for hospital treatment per day, prescription medication, medical aids or physical therapies. These co-payments apply to everyone who has public health insurance, except for children. Pregnant women also have co-payment exemptions for some healthcare services and medication, so feel free to contact us for further advice.

Can I receive a co-payment exemption?

Yes. All family members living in the same household can apply for a co-payment exemption. The exemption is possible when your household’s combined annual co-payments exceed 2% of your household’s combined annual gross income (or 1% in the case of chronic illness). Make sure you keep all your co-payment receipts as proof. The co-payment exemption is calculated every calendar year. Your BARMER service advisors are happy to guide you on this.

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Stephan Ottenbruch

February 15, 2024 at 01:16 PM (UTC +2:00)

Thanks for your good tipps