Healthcare in Germany

We have a two part health insurance system. Most people (90%) in Germany are covered by social security, about 10 % have a private health insurance.

Although it should not happen there are a few people without any coverage of their health care costs. (There were more than 1000 different social health insurances in the past, we have now about 280, still too many!)

We have a general health insurance dependent on the particular income. (You pay a certain percentage of your income, at the moment it is around about 7%, the employer pays another 7% ). Children and husbands or wives (without own income) of the insurance holder are assured without any additional costs.

You have to have a rather high income (42,700 EUR per year) or to be a freelancer to contract a private health insurance. But if you want to remain with the social security allthough you earn more you can do so.

Once you decide for a private insurance you cannot go back to the social security unless you earn less.

An employee whose income decreases under the social security contribution ceiling, can go back to social security

Legal immigrants have social health insurances. Children of immigrants who are born in Germany have the right to become German citizens. They have to apply for it.

Social healthcare covers medically necessary treatments and drugs. Everybody is entitled to the same benefits, independent of her or his social security contributions. The co-payments for drugs or hospital expense are very moderate.

Social security normally does not pay complementary medicine (under certain circumstances they sometimes pay Iscador.

You have to have additional insurances for those treatments as you should have additional insurances for glasses and dental protheses

Those things were covered by social security until a few years ago but not any more. As all over in Europe we have the problem of extreme rising costs in the health care system.

You can choose your doctor or the hospital where you prefer to go.

You have access to medical care overall in Germany and normally you donīt have to wait long but all this does not say anything about quality!

We do have guidelines for breast cancer treatment for example S3 guidelines by the German Cancer Society or the St Gallen recommendations but only 40 % of cancer patients get a treatment according guidelines. That's what I heard last year.

There is a book on the market entitled "Ueberleben Gluecksache", (Surviving is a matter of luck) by Sibylle Herbert. It's the report of a journalist about her breast cancer treatment in Germany two or three years ago.

Just a few statistics:

We have estimated 55,100 new diagnosed breast cancers and 17,200 deaths of breast cancer last year in Germany.

Reported by Brita, a graduate of Project LEAD (training program in basic science from the National Breast Cancer Coalition, a Washington, DC-based advocacy umbrella group.

Remember we are NOT Doctors and have NO medical training.

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