Health Resources for English-Speaking Expats in Berlin
Alright, so you’ve moved to a new country. You’ve found a home, you’ve got a job, and you have a great group of friends. Things are going great. And while we wish that things could stay this way, it often doesn’t. One day you just might witness a horrible accident (probably while waiting for the M41 bus) – or worse, this accident happens to you. Now what?
First off, if there is a serious emergency or accident call for help.
112 for medical emergencies
110 for a police emergency
If this is a non-life threatening situation you can call +49 30 4664-4664 and speak with an English dispatcher who will help you with your current situation. If you need to see a doctor for a non-life threatening situation on weekends or holidays you can call 116 117, although it’s harder to find English-speakers on this line – so maybe grab a German friend to help you.
For contact numbers for other specific emergencies such as poisoning, child services, and up-to-date coronavirus measures, Berlin.de has all this information.
You can find all travel related information about quarantine and coronavirus here.
The next thing you need to be equipped with is health insurance. If you are studying, working, or living in Germany, health insurance is mandatory. The common health insurance covers you for general check-ups, emergency hospital visits and overnight stays and even sometimes prescriptions.
There are several options for German health insurance and it can be quite confusing. This is explained in another post. But simply, you have the choice between public and private insurance and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Keep in mind your employer usually covers the majority (if not all) of your health insurance costs. Freelancers, sorry, but this cost is left up to you.
One of the best rated health insurances in Germany is Techniker Krankenkasse, better known as TK. They have great customer service and quick response time and in the last years have started offering services in English. Get started with TK here.
Additionally, Ottonova has brought health insurance in Germany into the future. With a completely digital base and English service specifically for expats, this insurance can help you get you exactly the coverage you need for your employment status and visa requirements.
Finally, Foyer Global Health is a global health insurance company that provides best-in-class health coverage for expats all over the world. They offer an unlimited duration of cover and pre-existing conditions can be included after a risk assessment. This can be hard to get with German health insurance companies which makes Foyer Global Health a great choice.
Doctors who speak English
Nobody likes going to the doctor. Especially in a country that doesn’t speak your language. Thankfully Berlin is full of English-speaking doctors and there are many databases to find one that is close to you. The site www.aerzte-berlin.de allows you to filter by specialty, district, and language.
Doctena is a database that not only allows you to search for doctors by language and area but even shows you available appointment slots so you can get booked in right away.
If you still can’t find what you are looking for, it’s generally a good idea to look at your embassy’s website. They often have a list of recommended doctors, however, it is not usually the most up to date.
If you have ever tried to get an appointment in Germany with a doctor as a new foreign national you have definitely heard these words “Wir nehmen keine neuen Kunden auf” or “Unser nächster verfügbarer Termin ist in zwei Monaten.” Many doctor offices say that they are not accepting new clients or the next available appointment is weeks or months away. By the time you actually get in to see the doctor, maybe your problem has cleared up on its own – or gotten worse. The best way around this is to look for places with Sprechstunde or a consultation hour where you can show up without an appointment. Be prepared to wait but this is the best way to see a doctor immediately for an issue you may have. It also gives you some great time to study, so bring your German notebook with you and maybe next time you see the doctor you will be able to communicate in German!
Some German words and phrases to get you by when dealing with the health authorities include:
Artz/Ärztin – Doctor
Termin – Appointment
Sitzplatz/Wartezimmer – Waiting room
Notfall – Emergency
Unfall – Accident
Ich brauche ein Rezept – I need a prescription
Es ist ein Notfall/es ist dringend – It’s an emergency
Ich habe Schmerzen – I’m in pain
Ich habe keinen Termin, würde aber gerne zum Arzt gehen. Ich werde warten. – I don’t have an appointment but I would like to see the doctor. I will wait.
But it’s SUNDAY!
If you haven’t noticed already, Germans like to keep Sunday’s quiet. This means that many doctors are closed and some even have limited hours during the week. If you need to see a doctor on the weekends for a non-life threatening emergency call 116 117 for a non-emergency doctor on call. This number works all over German and the line is open 24/7 including evenings, weekends, and public holidays.
Additionally, if you urgently need medication or a prescription you can find an emergency pharmacy that is open outside of regular working hours (and even on Sunday) by calling 22 8 33 from a mobile phone (however, calls cost 69 cents per minute). Alternatively you can find this information online at Apothekerkammer Berlin which lists the pharmacies closest to you. Finally, the Medios Apotheke on Oranienburger Tor is open daily from 7-midnight and the pharmacy at Hauptbahnhof on the first floor at the Europaplatz exit is open 24 hours. Keep in mind that emergency pharmacies will be locked, so you must ring the bell and the pharmacist will fill your prescription while you wait outside on the sidewalk.
If you are unable to physically get to a pharmacy, Bodfeld-Apotheke has been voted the “best online pharmacy 2018” and offers 500,000 products which can be delivered right to your door. They have great customer service and are trusted by over 28,000 users in Germany. Use this link to save 1 euro off of your next prescription delivery.
Stay healthy out there and if you have found an English-speaking doctor which has provided great service for you, comment below!