International Association for Medical Assistance (IAMAT)
417 Center Street
Lewiston, NY 14092
You can also obtain a list of English-speaking doctors through the worldwide network of IAMAT. IAMAT members receive a city-by-city directory of professionally qualified doctors who speak English or another language in addition to their native language. These doctors have agreed to treat IAMAT members according to a set fee schedule; presently the equivalent of $55 for an office call, $75 for a house call and $95 for a night, Sunday or holiday call. There is no membership fee, but donations are encouraged, join before you leave the U.S.
Choosing a doctor in Germany can be an intimidating process because of the language difference, but it doesn’t need to be. The decision is of course as important as was choosing your doctor back home and can be approached in some of the same ways. You can refer to the yellow pages (Gelbe Seiten) in which doctors can be found by specialty. Or, often the best way, ask a colleague or friend. The best references can be by word of mouth.
Other good sources are the university clinics (Kliniken) in major cities which provide outpatient services in addition to hospitalization. These clinics are staffed usually by highly skilled doctors who often speak English.
112 Fire and Ambulance
When you have an urgent medical situation during evenings, weekends and holidays, you can find an “on-call” emergency physician by calling the number 112 nationwide. Speedy medical help is available there if it is necessary. In the state of Hesse the law requires help to get to you within ten minutes. It is also set up to give you emergency treatment instructions over the phone.
It can’t be guaranteed that the people at this Rettungsleitstelle will speak English. As an alternative you will find a list of emergency doctors in your local newspaper. You can also call your own doctor, who may have a recording telling you where to turn. Or you can call a hospital directly, or go there directly.
Only a doctor can authorize being hospitalized for a non-emergency condition, and a principal difference between German and American hospitals is that patients probably won’t be treated by the doctor who has been treating them up to now and who referred them to the hospital.
Germans, like Americans, are becoming increasingly concerned about the high cost of their health care system and, among other things, measures have been introduced to cut the length of hospital stays. Nevertheless, Germans usually stay in the hospital longer than Americans. New mothers, for example, average six days in a German hospital compared to one or two days, barring complications, for Americans.
Pharmacies (Apotheken) are generally closed evenings, Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. Each of them has a list on the door, though, of pharmacies that have remained open to handle emergencies.
What the Germans call Krankenversicherung is mandatory. If you found work after arriving here or if your company has transferred you to Germany, it is most likely that health insurance is already included in your job contract. In many cases it is necessary to show proof of health insurance coverage to get a residence permit.