Two people are using the BARMER Doctor Finder on a tablet

Medical aid
for refugees

Barmer FAQ: information for refugees from Ukraine

You need health insurance if, for example, you take up a job subject to social security contributions or receive unemployment benefits (“Arbeitslosengeld II”) (from 1st June 2022). You are then free to choose your health insurance fund. The health insurance fund you choose will issue you an insurance card which you can use to obtain services from doctors, therapists, hospitals or pharmacies.

You can also choose your health insurance fund if you receive welfare benefits – in other words you are neither employed nor receive unemployment benefits.

If you are not entitled to unemployment benefits or welfare benefits due to your income or assets, you can take out voluntary insurance from 1st June 2022. The legislative process on this matter is not yet complete. We will give you further information in due time.

Once you are registered at the responsible authority, you are able, in case of an acute illness, to claim the following benefits:

  • medical, dental or hospital treatment
  • medication and vaccinations
  • aids such as crutches
  • medical check-ups for children
  • medical check-ups for expectant mothers.

If you don’t have an acute illness, please first inquire at the social welfare authority in your town (town hall, citizens' centre or similar) if the costs for seeing a doctor or dentist or for receipt of medical benefits are covered.

The names of authorities vary from town to town. If you don't know which welfare authority is responsible for you (Foreigners' Registration Office, Social Welfare Office, State Office, etc.), you can dial 115 for information.

If you don't have a Barmer Health Insurance Card, you need a medical treatment certificate to see a doctor or dentist or for hospital treatment. Treatment certificates are issued by the social welfare authority responsible for your town. If a health insurance company finances your health expenses, the same institution provides treatment certificates until an Electronic Health Insurance Card (eGK) is issued to you. Each person receives a separate treatment certificate; these are not valid for the entire family.

The term of validity of a treatment certificate varies depending on the region, and is also subject to the respective issuing authority. The health insurance company treatment certificates, for example, are valid until an Electronic Health Insurance Card (eGK) is issued to you.

No, this is unfortunately not possible. To date, Germany and Ukraine have not yet signed a corresponding mutual agreement.

If you are registered as a refugee, a visit to the doctor is free of charge, and the state covers the medical costs. If you are not yet registered, the doctor issues a bill which you must pay for yourself.

Yes, if you possess a Barmer Health Insurance Card, you can choose which doctor to visit. We recommend you phone to make an appointment before seeing the doctor. If you have found a doctor's practice, but you would like to change to another, you can do so every three months in each case.

You can look up doctors by using the Barmer Doctor Finder. If you speak English, this service is also available in that language.

Simply phone 116117 for help in seeking a doctor. The 116117 hotline is the appropriate evening, night and weekend contact in case of non-life-threatening acute emergencies.

  • If you have a Barmer Health Insurance Card, you yourself can make the necessary appointments directly with a specialist.
  • If you don't have an insurance card, please inquire at your responsible regional social welfare office if you are eligible for a medical treatment certificate.

Generally speaking, you ought to first consult a family doctor. The family doctor (or specialist in general practice) if necessary arranges your transfer to a suitable specialist. Some specialists, such as gynaecologists or ophthalmologists, can be contacted directly if you have acute complaints.

There are many medical practices in Germany where Ukrainian refugees can seek psychological counselling. For example, you can use the BARMER physician search function to look specifically for doctors and psychotherapists who speak Ukrainian.

Our partner,, also provides the option of receiving psychological counselling online via WhatsApp anonymously, without any waiting times, and at any time of day or night. The counselling is free of charge, can be offered in Ukrainian and is run voluntarily by qualified crisis counsellors.

You can find further counselling offers via the victim protection portal of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, for example.

Yes, you are also able to see a dentist. However, before undergoing any comprehensive treatment, you ought to discuss the expense with the dentist, and find out whether the social welfare office will cover these costs.

Of course. The main emergency hotlines are in this case as follows:

Medical emergencies include the likes of acute breathing problems, acute chest or stomach pains, acute dizziness, an accident, or injury.

In case of danger to life and limb, all hospitals provide first-aid treatment.

  • If you are registered at the authority responsible for you, the corresponding municipality usually covers the expenses.
  • If you are not registered, and don't possess either a treatment certificate or a health insurance card, you may well receive a bill which you initially have to settle yourself. Hospital treatment can differ considerably and varies depending on the nature and duration of treatment.

To find a hospital, simply use Barmer Kliniksuche (hospital finder tool).

To receive prescription drugs, you need a doctor's prescription, allowing you to collect medication at a pharmacy. In Germany, we distinguish between over-the-counter, pharmacy-only, and prescription drugs:

  • over-the-counter medication is available at drugstores and pharmacies
  • pharmacy-only medication may only be administered by chemists
  • prescription medication is supplied by physicians only (when you present the prescription at the pharmacy, you receive your medicine)

Find out more now about medication.

Often, medical products carry different names in other countries, although they may be identical. Furthermore, it is not always possible to determine them if they are labelled in Cyrillic script.

If a prescription drug is not available in Germany, a doctor can help you transfer to equivalent medication.

The cost varies considerably. Painkillers and antipyretics may only cost a few euros. If you possess a medical treatment certificate or a German health insurance card, you don't have to pay for prescription drugs. You are also exempt from the statutory surcharge of 5 to 10 euros a package and from possible additional costs.

The Federal Ministry of Health provides further information.

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