Going to the Dentist in Germany

For years as a freelancer, I survived on the bare minimum of private insurance. I am now on public insurance in Germany and taking full advantage. Yearly check-up? Yes please! Eye exam? Why not? And the dentist? Sign me up.

So, clearly, it had been some time since I had any type of dentist visit. And I wasn’t sure what to expect in Germany. I had already been through the initial shock of a doctor’s visit in Germany with its mandatory greetings and brazen nudity, so how painful could a dentist visit be?

I’ll go over what I experienced going to the dentist in Germany, how to find a dentist in Germany, how much dental care costs in Germany, and helpful German vocabulary for the dentist.

der Mund PHOTO: dozenist

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What to Do if you Get Pregnant in Germany

PHOTO: Erin Porter

Pregnancy Test Vending Machine

When I first found out I was pregnant in Germany, I freaked out. I was married and happy, we were kinda trying but I was still terrified. I suspect I would have been apprehensive no matter where I was, but there were so many questions about how this would go in Germany.

I dug into the German-Way archives and their experience calmed me. I had seen the mobs of hip, strollered woman parading around Prenzlauer Berg. I could do this. I did do this. And you can, too. Here are the first few steps of what to do when you find out you’re pregnant in Germany.

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In Search of Healing

One of the typical hotspots in any political discourse between Americans and Germans is the topic of health care. Europeans firmly believe that a shocking percentage of Americans live without any access to health care, and Americans believe that the socialist Europeans pay their hard-earned cash to cure another (poorer) man’s illness. There is a bit of truth in both views, which is then ballooned by the media until it becomes impossible to understand how one country or the other can possibly survive on their current system.

For the purpose of discussion here, let us first differentiate between health insurance and health care. Health insurance is the system we pay into that should hopefully pay out in the event that we are ill and need financial support for treatment. Health care is the treatment of sick patients. While it is true that large numbers of Americans (about 16% of adults  and 9% of children) don’t have health insurance, hospitals across the country offer health care to anyone who comes through their doors – for emergency care.  And while Germany has universal health insurance, there are even people here who fall through the cracks and have no coverage. Continue reading

Living the German Way Part III

I was disappointed to read that my fellow blogger, Sarah Fürstenberger, was leaving our ranks as German Way Co-blogger for the time being. She and I had become friends while recording the same chapter in life as American expats living in Germany through this blog. Coincidentally, she and I also left Germany at the same time this past summer.

Although I was sad to no longer be able to keep up with her American/German family’s new Irish life through her blog posts, I could also understand her sentiment that her heart wasn’t in blogging about the German Way anymore. Often, when my week rolled around to blog, I felt at a loss as to what to blog about. It’s been about eight months since we left Germany, and our lives have significantly changed: our daughters, though still bilingual, speak mostly English now, we start to shiver at 60 degrees F (16 degrees C), our consumption of paper products jumped exponentially when we became members of Costco, and we barely buy or eat cold cuts (Aufschnitt) anymore.

I realized though that despite the dilution of our German-ness, there were beliefs and pursuits of the German Way of Life that I was still committed to. First and foremost on that list has been finding a pediatrician that suited a more typical German parenting philosophy: encouraging play-based learning for under six-year-olds, fostering independence, and choosing the natural alternatives when possible. Continue reading

Rx for Drugs in Deutschland

German Apotheke logo

The official German Apotheke logo.

One of the more important items on the pre-departure checklist for expats or travelers headed to Germany concerns any prescription drugs they may require during an extended stay. Those who need certain medications can bring their own prescription drugs with them when they travel to Germany — in their carry-on or checked luggage. That’s not a problem. The hassles only begin when you want or need to “import” your own prescription drugs to Germany from the U.S. or some other country. I have some personal experience with the complications that can arise when you have your own medications sent to you in Germany by a friend, spouse, relative or anyone outside Germany. You may also want to do this, since your U.S. prescription plan may not cover you in Germany, but it is fraught with peril.

First, let’s talk about how you can avoid such complications and related hassles up front. (In other words, what I should have done, but didn’t.) Then I’ll tell you what happens if you don’t follow this advice! Continue reading

Of blood pressure and other medical matters

While I was living in Berlin for about ten months, I had cause to go to two German physicians — both women. Fortunately, my medical matters turned out to be minor, although my eye scare had me concerned for a while. Besides the Augenärztin (ophthalmologist), I also saw a general practitioner lady MD, to whom I was referred by an Apotheker when I had my U.S. prescription problem (a long story for later). Between the two doctors, I visited their offices over a dozen times over a period of months.

I could write a book about the entire German medical thing compared to the U.S., but the one thing I want to discuss now is Blutdruck. Not once in all my times at the doctor — not the first visit, in between, or the last — did either doctor ever measure my blood pressure. Not a single time. In the U.S., you can’t get out of a doctor’s office without this blood-pressure ritual. Continue reading