The information in this article has been provided by Hamburg Welcome Portal.
Patients in Germany have a free choice of doctors. That means anyone can decide which medical practice to visit first when they fall ill, have an injury or need a checkup — as long as they can shows their health insurance card every time they go to a doctor.
In case of illness, a general practitioner or a specialist for internal medicine should usually be the first point of contact for adults, while children should be taken to a paediatrician. In order to establish a relationship of trust with the medical staff, always consulting the same medical practice (family practice) is recommended.
Family doctors will make an initial diagnosis, prescribe appropriate medication and – should the necessity arise – make referrals to specialists or a hospitals. If a patient has a job and is temporarily unable to work due to illness, the doctor will also provide a written certificate of incapacity (Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung) from the doctor, which the patient should send to their employer immediately.
Those with public health insurance don't generally need to worry about any costs — their doctor will settle the costs directly with the relevant health insurance company. Those with private health insurance will receive a bill for medical treatment via post. Generally, the patient will first have to pay the bill and then forward proof of payment to the private health insurance company for reimbursement.
Searching for a doctor
There are several useful German-language search tools online to assist with searches for general or special medical practices in Hamburg. For example:
- Search engine of the Hamburg Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Hamburg): → Bürger → Arztsuche (includes the search criteria “foreign language”)
- Search engine of the Medical Association Hamburg (Ärztekammer Hamburg): → Patienten → Arztsuche
- Search engine f the Dentists Association Hamburg (Zahnärztekammer Hamburg): Type your street name or post code in the white field
Tip: The patients’ hotline +49 (0) 40 / 20 22 99 222 offers advice concerning medical questions and which doctor to choose – free of charge.