Although I have been living in Germany for well over a year now, I had never actually gotten German health insurance. This all changed when I started my Master’s in Germany, however, as being enrolled in a German university made me eligible for public health insurance.

Since I have Type 1 Diabetes, a chronic disease that could easily eat up a couple hundred dollars a month in medication and doctor’s visits while I was living in the U.S. (and that’s with private insurance), I was very excited about enrolling in German public health insurance.

Although I signed up in October, I didn’t actually take advantage of what I was paying 78€ per month for until my first doctor appointment in December.

Once the day came, I was thrilled to walk into the office, hand the secretary my health insurance card, and head back to the waiting room. No talk of money at all, because nobody pays for doctor’s visits (of course there are exceptions to this rule, but in general, doctor’s visits are paid in full).

I then sat in the waiting room listening to the doctor call each of the patients’ names.

“Frau Riemenschneider!”

“Herr Müller!”

“Frau Kalbfleish!”

Mrs. Martin!”

Ahh, yes. Since the German boyfriend sees the same doctor, he had told him a few weeks prior that his American girlfriend had an appointment coming up. So, the doctor thought it was hilarious to call me “missus.” I guess I can’t complain too much though. At least he didn’t call me Mr. Courtney like so many other Germans do.

The doctor’s appointment itself started off pretty standard, with the doctor asking questions about my history and showing me my blood work (which I got done a week prior, and I didn’t have to pay for).

What shocked me most was when the doctor abruptly said, “I would like to do an ultrasound. Can you lay down over here?”

An ultrasound? Don’t we need to schedule that for a separate day? Won’t that cost a lot of extra money? Oh yeah, these are all things that the Germans don’t think about.

So, I laid down and had a quick ultrasound. No biggie.

German prescription forms (red is for public health insurance)

Overall, the appointment went great, and I walked out with a handful of prescriptions that needed to be filled ASAP. So, on the way home I stopped by the pharmacy.

Oh, and when I said I had a handful of prescriptions, I wasn’t kidding. I still have the receipt that shows that I handed over 6 that day, and you can see from the photo above that I am still holding onto three more, which I will fill via an online pharmacy.
When I went to the pharmacy that day, however, I was watching the monitor anxiously as the total steadily rose. But to my surprise, it was only going up by increments of five, and at the end, my total was only 32.07 Euro.
part of my receipt from the pharmacy

“Only 30 Euro for all that?!” I was thinking as I handed over my debit card.

So, I was quite surprised when Marco whispered to me, “I am sorry it costs so much. I can help pay for it, if you want.”

What?! Are you kidding me? I just paid 10€ for over 3 months of insulin! I’ve got no problem with that!

Since the receipt included the list price of each of the medications, I figured I would add that up just to see how great my German health insurance is. The result? 627.15€

Let’s do that math:
32.07 / 627.15 = 0.05

That means my insurance covered 95% of the costs of my medication! I realize that Europeans are probably super bored reading this post, but this is a big deal for us Americans, especially for those unlucky Americans that have chronic diseases.