If you receive money from the jobcentre, you are insured in the statutory health insurance system. Just like everyone else who is covered by the statutory health insurance system, you are entitled, under Book V of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch), to a range of services, especially medical treatment, pregnancy and maternity services, and services for the prevention and early detection of diseases.
If you receive social assistance (Sozialhilfe), you are not compulsorily insured in the statutory health insurance system. However, you will receive a health insurance card from a statutory health insurance fund, and this allows you to access healthcare services if you need them, in line with the services provided by statutory health insurance. The costs will be covered by the welfare office (Sozialamt).
If you receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz), you are only entitled to the medical and dental treatment required for the treatment of acute illness or pain. This includes the provision of medicine and dressings, as well as other benefits required for recovery, improvement or alleviation of illness or its consequences.
Officially recommended vaccinations and medically necessary preventive examinations for the prevention and early detection of diseases or the consequences of diseases are also covered, among other things.
An entitlement to more care may be granted if a benefit is necessary to safeguard health in individual cases. Those entitled to benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act with a residence permit for temporary protection due to war in their country of origin in line with Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) who have special needs (for example, due to severe forms of psychological or physical violence) have additional entitlement to necessary medical assistance and other kinds of assistance.
You can find more information about medical care at medmissio Institute for Global Health. Its MedBox aid library offers a for Ukrainian refugees with answers to urgent questions about their medical care.
Doctors in private practice
In general, illnesses are diagnosed and treatment is prescribed by doctors working in individual or group practices (niedergelassene Ärztinnen und Ärzte). These doctors also issue prescriptions for medicines and can refer their patients for admission to a hospital for further treatment.
Doctors in private practice may bill the social services office (Sozialamt) or a statutory health insurance provider (Krankenkasse) for their services, or patients can pay for their treatment at the doctor’s office themselves. If you do pay yourself, you cannot be reimbursed afterwards.
Important: Most doctors see patients by appointment. You should therefore make an appointment, preferably by telephone. You can also make appointments online, for example on the website (in German only). Make sure you keep to the agreed date and time! Patients without an appointment can usually expect waiting times.
Doctors must keep medical confidentiality. They are not permitted to disclose the information they are entrusted with to third parties. Certain infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, must be reported to the public health authority. This is the only way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This notification does not affect the processing of an asylum claim.
Important: Many doctors speak English or another language in addition to German. Please ask about this. If you do not speak German well, it is a good idea to take a person you trust and who speaks German to the doctor with you.
You will be treated in a hospital only if treatment at a doctor’s office is not sufficient. A stay in hospital (Krankenhaus) must be approved in advance. Only go to a hospital without first going to the doctor’s office if it is an emergency!
In Germany, many medicines may only be dispensed to patients by pharmacies (Apotheke). You can get certain medicines (verschreibungspflichtige Arzneimittel) from a pharmacist only if you present a doctor’s prescription. There are also many medicines that can be bought freely without a prescription. The costs of these will not be reimbursed by the relevant government agency.
The pharmacist will inform you about how to take the medicine.
At least one pharmacy near you will be on duty at all times of the day and night.
List of documents you will need to see a doctor
To see a doctor in Germany, you should take the following documents with you to ensure that your visit can take place without difficulty:
Treatment voucher (issued by local authority, usually social welfare office (Sozialamt);
- Insurance card
- Questionnaire (print this out and fill it in ahead of time, for example using in Ukrainian)
- Document from a general practitioner referring you to a specialist
- Vaccination certificate, record of x-rays taken, test results (for example, x-ray films, blood test results)
- List of medications (to identify any pre-existing health conditions)