Asylum seekers and those who have received a suspension of deportation or border crossing certificate are not usually permitted to work and are consequently not insured by the public health care system. In such cases, the German state pays for your medical care. According to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act, such individuals have the right to treatment for acute pain and illness as well as all examinations and care relating to pregnancy and birth. Some German states require a limited treatment certificate before providing medical care. In other states, a health insurance company will issue the person an insurance card that allows him or her to immediately see a doctor.
After 15 months, the social welfare office enrolls the individual in a health insurance programme. You then receive a health insurance card, which you can use immediately to see a doctor, and you are also entitled to regular medical care.
If you’re living in Germany without the proper documents, you cannot receive insurance through a health insurance provider. However, according to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act, you can still receive benefits under certain conditions (see above). It’s best to ask for advice in such cases.
For those who suddenly fall ill, are injured or pregnant, organisations like Malteser Migranten Medizin or Medi-Büro have doctors who will provide you with treatment that is both anonymous (no need to give your name) and free of charge.
In an emergency, however, you should immediately go to the hospital. The emergency department staff must help you, even if you have no insurance and are unable to pay for treatment.
If you are chronically ill, it will be difficult to find long-term treatment and medicine. You will also have to pay for it yourself. This is especially costly for serious diseases like HIV. If you find yourself in a situation like this, seek advice through a migrant organisation. A public health office or HIV/AIDS service organisation can also provide assistance.
If you are pregnant and uninsured, you can get a pregnancy exam through the public health office. In addition, you’re protected from deportation for a minimum of 6 weeks before and up to 8 weeks after childbirth. In some states, the time frames are as much as 3 months before and after childbirth. In accordance with the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act, you are also eligible for tolerated status and services. A counselling centre can provide you with help in this as well.
In 36 German cities, there are organisations that offer migrants and refugees free and anonymous medical care by a doctor. You can find a list of these organisations at http://medibueros.m-bient.com/Standorte.
For those without a valid residence status or papers, Malteser Migranten Medizin also provides free and anonymous medical care by a doctor. The organisation has facilities in more than 10 cities. You can find the addresses at www.malteser-migranten-medizin.de.
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