Going to see a doctor in Berlin?! It’s not a joke.

One thing I was worried most when moving to Berlin was a MEDICAL SYSTEM in Germany – it’s infamous for its redundancy and an old-fashioned process.

Coming from Seoul, I am kinda spoiled with a quick, clean and modern Korean hospitals where I can visit anytime, easily get medicines I need. Especially, I have a small problem with a weak immune system that causes me frequent irritation, so I was really concerned how I am gonna do in Germany.

Then, why is the German hospital system such a pain in the ass?

  1. You need your healthcare insurance (Gesundheitkarte) – it takes very long to get!

Without health insurance, it’s almost impossible to see a doctor here. You should subscribe either private or national one. Personally, I have a national TK health card linked to my company which looks like a below sample.

Sample image of Germany’s TK Gesundheitkarte

As a foreigner, the only way to get a national healthcare benefit is to study in Germany, work in Germany and get married to a German spouse. To be safe, it’s better subscribe a private health care at least temporarily, the monthly cost varies a lot which company and which coverage you choose.

The problem is even though you get a job finally, it can take more than one month to get the card in your hands – it happened to my French boyfriend, Ang. He waited for 1.5 months and then finally could go to see a doctor after the all the wait.

2. You need to make an appointment, and it can take very long as well

Most of cases, you have to make an appointment with doctor, but it’s not possible to get an appointment for the next day or at least the same week. Here’s the website where you book your appointment

So, if you need a regular checkup with a doctor like my case, I recommend you to book very very in advance.

I tried mid-August, and the earliest day I can see a doctor was Sep 20!! Yes, One month of wait. So, it is frustrating if you have any issue that should be handled ASAP.

But, actually I figured it out that some hospitals accept urgent cases without an appointment, you either have to at the opening hour or if you’re lucky, you can see a doctor after a wait for one hour or so. Check google review to get some hints if you can go without a booking, or call them (Some of them do not speak English, FYI)

3. They hardly prescribe the strong medicine.

German doctors really avoid prescribing antibiotics for the symptoms like casual cold. My collegue, she almost begged a doctor to give her strong medicine since she wants to recover as quick as possible. But, the doctor ended up giving her a doctor’s note that she should stay at home for 5 more days to recover, and prescribed her some vitamin thingy.

I think it’s a good move that they try not to give antibiotics and encourage natural recovery with a help of vitamin, water, lemon, ginger, honey and sleep.

But come on, we all have work, study, children to take care of and whatsoever. For some people, resting at home for a week for the cold is just really impossible.

4. Doctors are often old. So are machines.

Nothing against old doctors. But, for old equipment, hell yes!

Yes, so if you’re from a country like Korea where everything happens speedy and everything is neat, you’ll need some time to adjust yourself the German hospital system. I saw some Korean moms who are frustrated because a German doctor never prescribes a useful medicine for their children.

GOOD POINT OF GERMAN HEALTHCARE?? IT’S FREE!!!

Nevertheless, I found one good thing. If you subscribe to national healthcare, almost everything is free, or reimbursable. I visited a couple of doctors’ offices during the past 6months, I wasn’t asked to pay when leaving there. This included pap smear test, MRI test, ultrasonography which cost quite some amount of money in Korea. So, some not very urgent tests, Germany system is great, but for problems which needs a very quick treatment, it is very much pain in the ass.

Before you move to Germany, don’t forget to get prepared for health insurance, it’s pretty much big deal here. And, bringing some prescribed medicines is also a good way if it’s possible!

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