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 (“Bürgergeld”) (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 (“Bürgergeld”) or welfare benefits due to your income or assets, you can take out voluntary insurance from 1st June 2022. To qualify for this voluntary insurance you must have a residence permit (“Aufenthaltserlaubnis”) or a temporary residence permit (“Fiktionsbescheinigung”). You have a period of 6 months to apply (calculated from when you arrive in Germany).

You are welcome to send us the application documents via post (BARMER, 42266 Wuppertal) or via email ( If you communicate with us via email, the following information (in German) explains the general conditions of our email service.

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When you are ill and need to see a doctor, simply show your electronic health card (eGK) when you attend the medical centre. You will also need to take your passport or ID card with you when you first visit the doctor or dentist. You will get your health insurance card as soon as you are insured with BARMER or once the social security authorities have registered you with us. Treatment is generally free of charge for you.
No, this is unfortunately not possible. To date, Germany and Ukraine have not yet signed a corresponding mutual agreement.
As soon as we have all the necessary documents, we will apply for the e-health card for you. We will also give you a temporary membership certificate, which you can use to visit a doctor until you receive the e-health card.
When you apply for membership with BARMER and submit all the necessary documents, such as your photo, we will apply for your e-health card.
Get in touch with us. We will give you a temporary membership certificate, which you can use as proof of health insurance at your doctor's appointment. 
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.

Як знайти лікаря у Німеччині? / How to find a doctor in Germany?

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.

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.

This varies a lot. You can buy painkillers or fever-reducing drugs for just a few euros. If you have a medical treatment certificate or an insurance card issued by a German health insurance company, you usually need to pay an amount towards prescription drugs. The additional payment is 10 per cent of the price of the medication (minimum 5 euros, maximum 10 euros). If the price of your medication is below 5 euros, then you have to pay the actual full price.

For anyone who has been fully vaccinated with CoronaVac®, Covilo®, Covaxin® or SputnikV®, with or without a booster, an additional, single dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended. The vaccine should be administered at least three months after the last vaccination. Anyone who has received a different foreign vaccine or has only had one dose of CoronaVac®, Covilo®, Covaxin® or SputnikV® must get a new, full vaccination plus booster.

Further information on the topic of COVID-19 (in German).

BARMER health insurance automatically includes care insurance. You can use our contribution calculator to work out the amount of the care insurance contribution.
In order to receive care benefits, the person in need of care must have had care insurance for at least two years in the last ten years before the application for care is made. If this is not the case, the social security authorities may be able to step in with care provision.
Where relatives are cared for at home, you can, for example, use an outpatient care service provider. Where the provision of care at home during the day is not possible in part, you also have the option of using a day care facility. Where care recipients can no longer be cared for in their own home, they have the option of receiving care in an inpatient care facility. You can use the BARMER care guide to search for care facilities. You can also direct any questions you may have to the federal contact centre “Help for refugees with disabilities and / or care needs”.

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Get our FAQs also in german, ukrainian and russian

The Federal Ministry of Health provides further information.

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