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Some days ago, I realized that I have Zahnschmerzen (toothache). So, I went to see a doctor. This incident made me realize how important it is to know some basic phrases with which you can express that you are filling ill. Moreover, I would like to take the opportunity to explain how the procedure of seeing a doctor takes place in Germany. This comprises some general remarks on the German Gesundheitssystem (health system), too.
All people in Germany are medically insured by law. That is to say, even when people are unemployed they need not worry about their health because the Arbeitsamt (job center) will pay the monthly fee for you.
Germans are a kind of ‘hypochondriac’. When they feel ill they immediately go to see a doctor, as this is quite easy in Germany. You only need to arrange an appointment and immediately a doctor would examine you. Of course, the wait for an appointment may depend on the kind of doctor you want to contact. For example, the idle time for eye doctors and orthopedists can amount to several months. Anyway, the excessive consultations cost the government a lot of money, so, politicians passed a new law to have more control over the excessive consultation rates. Now, people have to pay 10 Euros Praxisgebühr (practice fee) per quarterly period if they want to consult a doctor.
Whenever Germans fell that something is wrong with them they first have to see their Hausarzt (prime care physician) who is usually a Allgemeinmediziner (general practitioner). There they pay the 10 Euros and if the general practitioner thinks the patient needs more special support, he will commit the patient to a specialist.
Unfortunately, the politician’s idea on having control over the excessive consultation rate backfired. Now, Germans see the practice fee as a kind of a complimentary ticket, so to speak, in order to enjoy medical examinations to the full, especially old people and people who are chronically ill.
Below you can find some phrases and words that would help you to interact with a German doctor.
After you would have entered the Sprechzimmer (doctor’s office), the doctor would ask you:
Was fehlt Ihnen? – What ails you?
Was kann ich für Sie tun? – What can I do for you?
Regarding your un-wellness you can say:
Ich habe Kopfschmerzen. – I have a headache.
Ich habe Fieber. – I have a temperature.
Ich habe Zahnschmerzen. – I have a painful tooth. / I have a toothache.
Ich habe Magenschmerzen. – I have a stomachache.
Ich habe Ohrenschmerzen. – I have a earache.
die Zahnschmerzen – toothache
das Gesundheitssystem – health (care) system
das Arbeitsamt – job center (you can also say Job Center in German because the German Arbeitsamt adopted the English term to polish its square image, so to speak.)
die Praxisgebühr – practice fee
der Hausarzt – prime care physician
der Allgemeinmediziner – general practitioner
das Sprechzimmer – doctor’s office