Country profile

Healthcare in Germany

Germany is rightly proud of its healthcare system, which is the oldest in Europe and one of the best in the world, with universal healthcare provided for all through a series of state sponsored insurance plans. All citizens are covered by this public health insurance, with the exception of the highest earners and the self employed, who are obliged to join private schemes.

The healthcare system itself is not run by the government however. A collection of self-governing national and regional associations provides staff and facilities, financed by the insurance premiums. This system results in high quality facilities right across the country, even in rural regions, and it is rare to have to wait long for treatment. Germany boasts over 2000 hospitals, including 37 university hospitals.

The German Tourist Board actively promotes healthcare tourism to take advantage of these excellent facilities, and hospitals are encouraged to create programmes that support overseas visitors. In 2010, 77,000 people visited Germany for medical treatment from 178 countries around the world and this number seems to be growing by at least 10% each year. To meet the growing demand for medical tourism, an increasing number of German hospitals now have a dedicated department to deal with foreign patients.

Specialist facilities include a world leading diabetes centre at the University Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden, the German Heart Centre in Munich, the Neurosurgical Clinic in Nuremberg, the Technical University in Munich, which specialises in breast cancer and the University Clinic in Dusseldorf, which specialises in cancer of the lungs and digestive tract.

The German Tourist Board also promotes the wellbeing aspects of healthcare tourism to Germany, promoting the many spas and health resorts that offer natural remedies such as clay wraps, mineral treatments and radon gas treatments, some of which are unique to the country.

German healthcare may not be the cheapest in the world but it is also not the most expensive and is certainly hard to match in quality or efficiency.

View information about doctor accreditations in Germany here

Accreditation and qualifications: cosmetic surgeons

Only plastic surgeons who are fully trained and qualified in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery of the entire body surface and the face are qualified to practise cosmetic surgery in Germany. This is represented by the official title; Plastic and Aesthetic Surgeon (formerly just Plastic Surgeon), which doctors receive after completing a six-year training in the speciality of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery, finishing with a successful board certification. 

After six years of medical school, doctors enter the plastic surgery training programme and during the six years of specialisation they undertake a large number of procedures under assistance and supervision of a consultant surgeon, qualifying for the final exam only if an approved and documented number of procedures have been performed.

Upon successful completion of this exam, surgeons are eligible to full membership of the German Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (DGPRÄC), formerly known as the Association of German Plastic Surgeons. It should be noted that an ‘associated member’ can be a young physician in training, so fully checking the credentials of membership is recommended. The Association of German Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (VDÄPC) is a subsidiary of the German Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons and it only allows surgeons who focus on aesthetic surgery to join.

The institution where the board exam is taken is the Ärztekammer, which has regional units. The national institution is the Bundesärztekammer. In Bonn for example it is the Ärztekammer Nordrhein. Cosmetic surgeons in Germany are often members of the General Medical Council (GMC) in London as well as Medical Doctor Chambers in Europe and private clinics and hospitals are assessed and checked by the Gesundheitsamt.

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