Officialization 8: Going to the Doctors

Officialization TOC

Going to the doctors

You may recall that I had to sign up for the national health insurance (or else waive it) earlier in the school year. I decided to sign up for it to ensure that I would be covered for my pre-existing condition. Since then, I went back to the health insurance office and picked up my insurance card.

Since that time, I have gone to the doctor and the dentist a number of times, and I have to say, it was a breeze. The hardest part is making an appointment, since you might have to do it in German, but actually, a lot of doctors speak English, so even that part can be easy.

So basically, you just make the appointment, come in, show them your card, wait for the doctor, get your turn with the doctor, and then leave. No money gets exchanged and no bills get sent out, although you might pay for some prescription medication.

In terms of the wait, I haven’t had to wait longer than 15 minutes so far, and once you are in their office, they aren’t running around to other patients like they sometimes do in the US– you get them for the full time.

They do seem to be a little less thorough in the questions they ask you, but I think it’s more because they expect you to bring it up when you don’t feel well. Also, I did bring my medical records with me, and they came in handy when I had to double check the amount of thyroxine hormone that I was taking previously. They still took my blood to make sure I was on track (as usual), but because of the records, I was able to get everything done a little more smoothly/quickly.

Since I’ve been a few times now, I can give you the breakdown of costs for the services I received here and in the US:

  • Monthly fee:
    • US: $10-15 (but my employer paid the larger share)
    • Germany: €90
  • Synthetic thyroxine medication:
    • US: $10-15 / month
    • Germany: €5 / three months
  • Doctor’s appointment with blood work:
    • US: $100-150
    • Germany: €0
  • Dentist appointment:
    • US: $30
    • Germany: €0
  • Mouth guard that the dentist said I needed:
    • US: $300 (never bought it because of the cost)
    • Germany: €0
Look at this awesome cast/holder thing that the mouth guard came with!

After calculating my health insurance costs in the US per year, and the costs here (including the monthly fees in both places, the copays/deductibles in the US, the cost of medication– everything), it has become apparent that being generally healthy in the US vs. being generally healthy in Germany costs about the same, at least for my situation.

However, as I understand it from the services covered under my insurance here, it seems like being sick in the US costs thousands of dollars more per year. Having children would also cost thousands more in the US. I can’t necessarily speak to the level of care that I would receive here in those situations, because I am mostly healthy now, thank goodness, and not pregnant. But judging from the level of care I have received so far, I believe it would be quite adequate.

Long story short, if you are covered under the national insurance system here, which has an affordable monthly cost, going to the doctor is cheap and easy!

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