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Health and Support Services for Students in Germany

Germany is known to have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Residents are offered a variety of services and benefits while having the possibility to choose from a diverse number of health insurance providers.

Health insurance in Germany is divided into two sectors:

  • Public (Statutory) Health Insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV)
  • Private Health Insurance (Private Krankenversicherung, PKV)
Sometimes residents may also opt for a combination of the two for more thorough services.

Private healthcare

Private health insurance is only available for:
  • People who earn more than €60,750/year.
  • Self-employed people and freelancers are eligible for private health insurance as well, no matter the amount of their income, however, they have to pay all the contributions on their own.
  • Students over 30 years old, language and preparatory course students, PhD students, and guest scientists.
People choose private health insurance since they can customize their insurance plans according to their needs. In addition to the service’s public health insurance offers, private health insurance schemes also offer the following:
  • Extended Hospital Services
  • Clinical Surgery
  • Dental Check-Ups & Surgeries

Pharmacies and medication

All medications, including non-prescription drugs, are kept on shelves behind the counter or in large drawers behind the counter or a back room. There is usually a selection of different types of non-medicinal health-related products in the pharmacy. Included in that selection, you could expect homoeopathic products. Pharmacists are highly trained and will always ask if you understand the dosages regarding prescriptions. They can also offer advice on non-prescription medicines, ointments, and other products that you can use to treat minor ailments. Most drugs are in packs that come in three different sizes – N1, N2 and N3. (Small, medium, and large) The actual number of pills packaged depends on the medication itself. There is always a paper in the packaging that explains in detail what the medicine is designed to treat, recommended dosages, contra-indications, and other important information. A wide variety of name brand drugs as well as generic drugs, are normally kept on hand. If a medicine you need is not in stock, it can usually be ordered for pick up in a few hours or the following day.

Hospitals and emergency rooms

Sometimes it may be necessary for you to be hospitalized while in Germany. There are several different types of hospitals in Germany. A Universitätsklinikum (often referred to as a Uniklinik) is a state or school run hospital. They are found in most major cities. Other hospitals include non-profit institutions that may be affiliated with any number of different groups. And there are also private clinics and hospitals. German hospitals are modern, have and use the latest technology and provide top-notch medical care.

Hospitals usually accept all patients that have health insurance. Only a doctor can authorize hospitalization for a non-emergency condition. It is possible that patients may not be treated in the hospital by the doctor who has been treating them and who referred them to the hospital. This depends on the circumstances surrounding the hospitalization and whether the referring doctor is a member of the hospital staff.

Germany is becoming increasingly concerned about the high cost of their health care system and, among other things, measures have been introduced to cut the length of hospital stays. Nevertheless, a stay in a German hospital can be more extended than stays in other countries.

Germans are not so concerned with privacy as are others. Meals and mealtimes at hospitals conform to what is usual in Germany. That big, hot meal of the day is served at midday rather than the evening. Breakfasts will be rolls or bread with jam, honey, meat, or cheese, while suppers will generally be bread, sausages, cottage cheese and tea.

Visiting hours are usually from about 2 to 8 p.m., and German hospitals frown on visits by small children. Smoking is prohibited in patient rooms. Patient rooms usually have two to four beds, and your roommates will always be of the same sex. Depending on the type of insurance coverage you have, you can be assigned a private or semi-private room.

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