Going to the doctor is almost a full time occupation in Germany.
In the UK, I just used to go to my GP for everything. Don’t get me wrong, the system isn’t perfect in England either, but at least I could get most things in one appointment.
Here I have to go to a specialist for everything, even repeat prescriptions. As a woman, this can mean spending a lot of time chasing around the different doctors.
You even used to need an Überweisung (referral) from your Hausarzt (GP) to go to each specialist doctor, unless you wanted to pay 10€ per different doctor visit. This was the price you had to pay every quarter for your doctor’s “practice costs”, on top of your health insurance, prescriptions and tax. What exactly this money was for, except to rip you off, I don’t know. But people must have complained eventually, because in January 2013 they finally changed the system.
Then there is the fact that the doctor is not open 9-5pm Monday-Friday. Instead, each doctor has their own practice hours, which means that sometimes you can’t get to the doctor when you need to. And if they go on holiday, there is no one there to cover for them, they are just away.
At least you can visit the doctor without an appointment. If you don’t mind waiting 2 or 3 hours that is.
As an expat, there’s also the added difficulty of finding English speaking doctors. Not so difficult? Hmmm. Even some of the doctors on the official English speaking doctors list, didn’t speak English. Or didn’t want to speak English with me. Ok, I’m in Germany, and I’ve learnt German, but when it comes to your health, this is one thing you really need to be certain you understand correctly.
And then of course, if you don’t need a doctor, just some Paracetamol, for some reason this costs five times what it does it the UK!