On the run and sick: What happens after the arrival in Germany

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Everyone in Germany has the right to medical care. But how is this requirement implemented in practice? And what are the hurdles? Questions and answers on medical care for migrants in Germany.

Refugees and sick: What now?

Yes, this initial examination is a mandatory examination by law. This is to detect contagious diseases and prevent their spread. Protective vaccinations are also offered.

No, not initially. During the first 15 months of their stay, they can therefore not simply go to the doctor. To do so, they need a treatment certificate, which they must apply for, stating their complaints, for example at the social welfare office. In emergencies, of course, asylum seekers have the right to go to a doctor's office or hospital immediately and subsequently obtain a certificate of eligibility. Some federal states do issue asylum seekers a healthcare card immediately, but even this does not entitle them to the full benefits of the healthcare system.

Only very few. Benefits are limited to treatment for acute and treatable conditions and pain, which includes toothaches, for example. Treatment for chronic illnesses that would worsen without therapy may also be approved. In addition, medical care is provided to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth.

After 15 months of residence, all asylum seekers receive a healthcare card. This gives them the same access to the health care system as a social welfare recipient.

Mental illnesses are particularly widespread. They affect about 40 percent of all refugees. Most of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their refugee experience.

Refugees usually suffer from exactly the same diseases as the population in Germany. Only very occasionally do they bring rare infectious diseases with them, such as malaria, tuberculosis, or Lassa fever.

Bundesministerium für Gesundheit: Online Ratgeber für Asylsuchende, online abrufbar unter https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/fileadmin/Dateien/5_Publikationen/Gesundheit/Broschueren/Ratgeber_Asylsuchende_DE_web.pdf, abgerufen am 25. Februar 2021

Verbraucherzentrale: Medizinische Versorgung von Asylbewerbern, online abrufbar unter https://www.verbraucherzentrale.de/wissen/gesundheit-pflege/aerzte-und-kliniken/medizinische-versorgung-von-asylbewerbern-12312 abgerufen am 25. Februar 2021

RKI: Epidemiologisches Bulletin 21. September 2015 / Nr. 38, online abrufbar unter https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Archiv/2015/Ausgaben/38_15.pdf?__blob=publicationFile abgerufen am 25. Februar 2021