INFOYER I Doctors in Germany

Finding and selecting a doctor in Germany is as sensitive and important a decision as anywhere else in the world. What makes the matter a little trickier is the language issue. Often the best way to go about it is through referrals via friends, family, colleagues and other acquaintances. The other option would be to consult yellow pages when your search is based on speciality. The internet is yet another valuable source of information on doctors. You can filter your search based on location, speciality etc. is one such webpage that offers search options in English as well.

University clinics in the bigger cities have both inpatient and outpatient services and often enjoy a reputation of having some of the most skilled medical personnel, who generally also speak English. Doctors in Germany unlike in the U.S. are not bound by any particular regulatory bill that makes it mandatory for them to explain causes, diagnosis, treatment etc. So if you wish to know more about your condition, you have to be prepared to ask your doctor questions. So it might be helpful to request a German speaking person to accompany you or simply carry a dictionary with you and look up relevant terms prior to your visit.
Most doctors in Germany are associated with a hospital and have their own practice. Those with private practices are usually available from Monday to Friday between 8a.m. and 1 p.m. and then post lunch break from 3p.m. and 6 p.m. Many doctors’ chambers remain closed on Wednesdays in the second half. Patients are seen mostly on a first come first serve basis especially if it is a general physician (Hausarzt). In certain cases, making a prior appointment is advised. The Hausarzt may recommend a specialist if you are in need of one. 
A few German phrases like:

Ich möchte einen Termin machen = I would like to make an appointment
Es ist dringend = It is urgent

may come in handy when speaking to the doctor’s assistant (Arzthelfer) while trying to seek an appointment. Consulting the doctor over the phone is usually a paid service. 
In case of an emergency post working hours, on weekends or public holidays, you can try calling your house physician, failing which you could contact emergency services or Notdienst (110 nationwide) for the name of the emergency doctor on duty in your area. One could also call the police or a local hospital or just directly go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. The local newspaper is also a great source of such information and has a list of all emergency medical services along with numbers for the fire brigade, ambulance services etc. under a section called the ‘Notdienst Kalendar’. Some newspapers but not all have this information on their online edition as well. 
If you are insured under the state health insurance system, a visit to the doctor is associated with a small co-payment once a quarter, which need not be paid when visiting a new doctor via a written referral from your previous physician. You will be required to produce your health insurance card at the doctor’s chamber. 
Those privately insured are also normally issued a similar card. Some policies may require the patient to foot the bill and then claim reimbursement while others require you to simply send the bill to the insurance company and they pay directly.