I recently had to visit a doctor. A dermatologist, to be specific. And as such, that was my first brush with the German health care system. Aside from this visit, the only encounters I had with health care providers are dentists, which I go to every 6 months. Anyway, my face was giving me problems, so I had to go pay a dermatologist a visit.
See, since summer, the area around my nose has been inflamed. I thought it was just sunburn; after all, it started when I was spending a lot of time outside. And more often than not, I would forget to put on sunscreen. Hence, I thought that the redness around my nose and forehead was just sunburn. But six months later, it still wouldn't go away. So I applied moisturizing cream, body milk, body lotion, body potion, whatever you call it. It still didn't help.
Anyway, that wasn't actually the trigger why I decided to go to the doctor. I typically hate putting creams and ointments on my face; hence I typically forget to use sunscreen whenever I need to. Anyway, something else showed up. I first had a dark blister, or spot. It healed within 3 days. Then another showed up. And another. One after another, I got these weird spots, but only on the left side of my face. And mostly where I had facial hair. I almost thought that my face is becoming allergic to my hair. Oh well. So since I started getting worried, I made an appointment to a dermatologist, first by going to an online database of doctors in Berlin, and finding someone who speaks English. As much as I can converse in German, I figured that it is better for me to find a doctor in which I can exactly say what is bothering me.
So I went to the doctor, but before my appointment, I already went online and self-diagnosed myself. I had a hunch what condition I had, and sure enough, I was right, at least with one of them. I figured out what the red inflammations were. But I didn't figure out what the weird spots were. Mostly because the pictures were too scary, and my face didn't look like that, at least, yet. I suppose I went to the doctor early enough before it became worse.
Anyway, I now have two ointments, treating two different parts of my face. Unfortunately, the clinic I went to was a private practice, and so they were not accepting my insurance card. I had to pay it out of pocket. That being said, the German health care system allows everyone to choose any doctor they wish to visit, so I have contacted my insurance provider to ask them to shoulder my clinic bill (and hopefully the medicine as well). However, it turned out that my insurance provider will not cover it, as it is against policy to go to private practices, apparently. That being said, the person I talked to was very helpful, and said that the next time I need to go to a doctor, I should check with the insurance's directory first to find out doctors that do accept their insurance. Oh well, there's a first time for everything, and this first time didn't cost me an arm and a leg anyway.
Overall, however, I always have a pleasant encounter with health care providers here. When they say you have an 8:30 AM appointment, they will be available at 8:30. No long waits whatsoever.
And it seems my face is still intact.