Healthcare for UK Visitors to Germany
One of the main benefits for UK visitors to the European Union is that they can access the state healthcare systems of the various EU countries using the European Health Insurance Card system (EHIC). All UK nationals can apply for a EHIC online, and this covers basic healthcare overseas. State health provision varies by country, so if you are heading to Germany shortly, it is important to know what your EHIC will cover, and more importantly, what it won’t.
EHIC Cover in Germany
Germany’s state health care system is very good, and standards of hospitals and care are just as high as in the UK. The state system abbreviation is GKV, and doctors and hospitals operating under the state system will have signs saying “Kassenzart” or “Alle Kassen”. If in doubt, ask. Regional governments also maintain online lists of GPs, specialists and hospitals in the state system in the local area, but the information is only available in German. You will not be charged to see a doctor in Germany, but if you need hospital treatment you will be charged 10 euros per day, up to a maximum of 28 days. These charges may be recoverable from your travel insurance, so always keep invoices and bills. Children under the age of 18 will not be expected to contribute. Prescriptions must also be paid for, and costs range between 5 and 10 euros. Prescribed drugs are free for children. Ambulance transfers to hospital will only be covered by the state system in an emergency situation, or where requested by a doctor. Doctors and hospitals will often ask for copies of your EHIC card for their records, so take some photocopies with you along with the originals. Adults may be charged for dental treatment, so always ask the dentist to explain the charging structure up front. German hospitals are efficient and reliable, and many medical professionals will speak fluent English.
Travel Insurance for Trips to Germany
Having travel insurance on top of your EHIC cover is often a sensible move. Tourists with private cover, or Germans who pay an additional premium, can often access treatment more quickly, or can be treated in a single room rather than being on a ward. Always make sure that you are covered by speaking to your insurer before agreeing to go ahead and be treated as a private patient. Most private hospitals will have several English speaking members of staff who can help you through the paperwork. Most of the large towns and cities will have private hospitals, or private rooms in state hospitals, and information about provision in the local area can often be found online. Always get a full invoice in English where possible, as you will need them to claim back any costs later on. Travel insurance will also pay to get you back home from Germany if your travel plans have to change, and for many other expenses associated with illness. Policies vary though, so always check the terms and conditions.