In an ideal world, you would always be blissfully happy, everything would be beautiful, and you would never get hurt. Unfortunately, people do get hurt all the time. So, if it happens to happen to you, you should know what you are going to have to deal with when you have to go to a hospital in Germany.
If you need to go to a hospital, there are two ways in which you can be admitted. Either you can go right in with an emergency — blood gushing, limb falling off, nail in your face, etc. — or if it is not an emergency, your primary physician or general practitioner can refer you to a hospital. If you are referred by your doctor, you will need to check in upon arrival and show proof of insurance and identification. Your doctor should have reserved a bed for you. Some general practitioners split their time between their practice and a hospital, so it is possible that the doctor you see at the hospital is also your regular doctor.
Insurance at the Hospital
If you have an emergency, most hospitals should admit you regardless of whether you have insurance or what type of insurance you have. Just be prepared, if you have no insurance, your hospital stay is going to cost you.
With public insurance, you should check what is covered and what additional expenses you may have. With private insurance, there are usually additional perks, like private rooms and preferential treatment. Also, some private hospitals only take patients with private insurance.
There are a few different types of hospitals in Germany: public, private, non-profit, and university-run hospitals. However, they are mostly similar in the quality of care offered. The modern technology, the quality of care, and the expertise of the doctors and staff will all be of the best quality, no matter what insurance you have or where you go.
What to expect
Most patient rooms have three or four beds. A big difference between German and American hospitals is that German hospitals offer much less privacy. There are no curtains separating you from your roommates and no towels or drapes, so it would be beneficial to bring with you a bathrobe, a toothbrush, a washcloth, and some slippers. Also, because of the closeness of your neighbors, it is frowned upon to bring small, noisy children into the hospital.
You are allowed to bring your own food, unless you are on a strict diet. While you are staying at the hospital, be prepared for typical German meals and early meal times.
In Germany, there are no laws enforcing full disclosure from doctors to patients. The doctor then may not tell you everything that is going on, so it is wise to be armed with questions when you have to go to the hospital.
Lastly, it is a custom in Germany to treat the nursing staff to a small gift before leaving the hospital. The nurses are the people who take care of you and work closest with you, so it is also common courtesy to be kind and gracious to them.
Having to go to the hospital is an awful thing to go through. Hopefully, this information can ease the pain of not knowing what to expect if you do happen to go.