Tips I wish people told me about the healthcare system

The German healthcare system can be a suffer. I’d like to give you some advices, they come from someone who has to deal with the medical system a lot because of chronic illnesses.

How to get appointments quicker

Sometimes you need to have a consultation with a specialist doctor, but they only offer appointments in a few months. You’re in pain or suffering from the condition. What do you do?

You can go to a family doctor (Hausartz) and request a transfer code (Überweisungscode) — this is different than just an referral slip (Überweisung.)

A transfer code is special because it grants you the legal right to see a doctor within four weeks.

You can read about it more, in German or English.

For whatever reason, in my experience with many different Hausartz over the years, they will not offer this themselves, you must ask for it.

Once you have a code, you can use the online system to find an appointment in your area. The online system is located here.

Avoid waiting at the family doctor for simple sicknotes

Sometimes I am just sick, and the best thing for my body would be to stay in bed and rest, but sometimes I have a prior appointment which can only be cancelled with a sick note (for example, German language course paid government.)

So previously, I would force myself out of bed — to the family doctor’s acute time slot, and often just wait hours to speak for five minutes to get the paper.

It felt like a very inhumane system – like torture.

Assuming you have normal public health insurance, since 2020, you can use an online app to speak with a doctor and get a sicknote (Krankschreibung.) The costs for speaking to the doctor and issuance of the sicknote are paid by your insurance, so it is free for you.

You can read more about it, in German or English.

Sick during vacation

Once my partner and I went to Italy – we came down with a virus, and were sick, it ruined the vacation.

If you’re sick during vacation days, if you get a sicknote from a doctor, you get the vacation days refunded.

Bonus: TK has an English speaking phone hotline

Whenever I have questions, we can easily call them in English and ask our questions. They are very friendly, knowledgeable, and nice.

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