Prescription in Germany. Red, blue, green prescriptions – when you must pay

Last Updated on August 11, 2022

What does red prescription in Germany mean? How much do you need to pay extra for medicines and other medical services? What a green prescription is? How to find a medicine in Germany? These questions we answer in this post.

From 2022, the prescription in Germany is issued in electronic form. At least theoretically, there is such a possibility. Whether there is practically this possibility in praxis – one must ask. It will useful in Internet-pharmacies.

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Medicines fall into the following categories:

  • freely available (vitamins and dietary supplements, oils, medical and cosmetic ointments, herbal products – you can buy in supermarkets, Drogerie stores) – without a prescription
  • sold at the discretion of the pharmacist (green prescription)
  • and sold only by prescription (red prescription).

The principle of categorization of similar drugs is somewhat puzzling. For example, you can freely buy cetirizine for allergies, but not aerius.

The blue recipe is a recipe for private insurances.

Yellow prescription – for strong drugs. The validity period of such prescriptions is a week.

Red prescription in Germany. When do you need to pay?

Red (pink) prescription is free (relatively free).

For it, you do not pay anything if, for example, medicine for a child.

Or pay 10% of the cost. But not less than 5 euros and not more than 10 euros – very often it comes down to just 5 or 10 euros.

For example, if the medicine costs 45 euros, then 10 percent will be 4.50, and they will take 5 euros.
For a medicine with a total cost of 140 euros, they will take, respectively, 10 euros. But for a medicine worth 67 euros, they will take 6.70 euros. If the medicine costs 3.50, then they will take 3.50.

True, there may be exceptions to this rule – they will charge you less than 5 euros or much more than 10 if the Krankenkasse allocate a certain amount for this particular medicine.

For example, a medicine costs 60 euros, and the Krankenkasse pays 50 euros. The difference is 10 euros + 10 percent of the cash register price (5 euros) = the price you pay, i.e. 15 euros.

The price of red prescriptions will be the same in a “live” pharmacy, as in a virtual one.

As written on the website of one pharmacy, the red prescription is valid for 3 months, but after 4 weeks you will have to pay the full cost of the medicine.

For those who have low earnings, it makes sense to collect drug co-payment checks, since from a certain amount (2 percent of gross income, for chronic patients – 1 percent) they are exempt from co-payments.

What does the red prescription look like?

rote rezepte / red prescription in Germany

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1. Patient address and date. If you have arranged delivery from a live pharmacy or sent this prescription to a virtual pharmacy, your address must be correct.

2. If the first box (gebührenfrei) is checked, the medicine is free, the second box (gebührenpflichtig) – you have to pay 10 percent extra.
Third box (noctu) – if checked, the Krankenkasse will cover the cost of a visit to the night pharmacy (about 2.50 euros).
The box Unfall / Arbeitsunfall is checked, as in this case the cash desk can withdraw money for medicines from the person responsible for the accident or the insurance company.

Thus, if you send a prescription to an online pharmacy and it asks you if there is a Zuzahlungsbefreiung (surcharge exemption), then you need to look at these windows.

3. The name of the Krankenkasse.

4. Krankenkasse number.

5. Number of the insured.

6. Special status of the insured (pensioner, child, etc.).

7. Validity period of the insurance card.

8. Number of the doctor.

9. Date of issue of the prescription.

10. Name of drugs.

11. Data of the doctor.

12. If the Aut-idem box is checked, exactly the medicine that is written must be given. Otherwise, the pharmacy may offer an analogue.

13. Special cases:
6, BVG – all without surcharge;
7, Hilfsmittel – such means as, for example, compression stockings;
8 – vaccinations;
9 – medicines to be taken by a doctor.

14. Pharmacy number.

15. Data required for automatic prescription filling.


Do you have any more questions? Use comments ⇓ or private communication form

Medical prescriptions for children

Children receive medicines free of charge. In rare cases, they may charge a small amount for reasons unknown to me. For example, for those nose drops for babies that are written in the prescription, you have to pay 1.20, but you don’t have to pay anything for their analogue, which is usually offered by a pharmacist who cares about our wallet.

It may happen that the child needs a medicine that is not on the free list. For example, we needed an ointment and needed to be vaccinated against rotavirus when it was not yet on the vaccination schedule. In the first case, the doctor wrote a request to the Krankenkasse to pay for this ointment, since the child needs it. The Krankenkasse agreed to do this 6 times, however, we did not need all 6. As with the rotavirus vaccine, you had to pay first and then send a check to the cashier indicating your account.

Non-drug prescriptions (Verordnung and Überweisung) and other services

In addition to prescriptions in different colours, there are prescriptions for therapy (Verordnung) and referrals to other doctors or diagnostic in the hospital (Überweisung). They have their own expiration date.

The expiration date for therapy has recently been extended from two weeks to a month, unless the doctor indicated a shorter period. Which made life much easier.

The expiration date for the Überweisung is a calendar quarter. That is, the doctor issues a referral, but if the term is six months later, then the referral must be taken again. And try not to take the term on the first day of the quarter in the city 100 km from home.

Surcharge for physiotherapy and massage: 10 percent of the cost of therapy multiplied by the number of visits, plus 10 euros per referral.

Children are not charged anything for a referral to a speech therapist or occupational therapist. But therapists can set a fee for materials (saw the ad but haven’t had to pay yet).

For hospital stay (except childbirth, which is free): 10 euros per day, but not more than 280 euros per year.

Surcharge for transportation (including for children): 10 percent of the price, but not less than 5 and not more than 10 euros. The plane and the helicopter will thus also cost 10 euros (verified). But you will have to describe in detail what led you to use medical transport.

Green prescription

A green prescription is not a real prescription, but a doctor’s recommendation.

Green prescription

You can keep it for as long as you like, and you don’t have to give it to the apothecary. Rather, on the contrary, green prescriptions and invoices for them must be collected: as an additional service, some Krankenkassen pay for certain medicines from green prescriptions (for example, medicines based on natural remedies) in a certain amount. In addition, theoretically, you can reach a minimal limit for tax deduction (Außergewöhnliche Belastungen, see topics on the declaration).

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If a green prescription is issued for services (for example, an osteopath) that are compensated by your insurance, then it will need to be saved and sent along with a invoice to the Krankenkasse. The information in the prescription will matter. Our Krankenkasse pays for 3 sessions per year, so the prescription must indicate the number of 3 sessions or three prescriptions must be taken, and the date must precede the session and coincide with it in a year.

“Green” medicines are usually substantially cheaper at online pharmacies and it is worth checking out several pharmacies as the price will vary.

How to find a medicine if you only know its name in your mother language

Most medicines can still be found in Germany, although, of course, many of them will be prescription only.

To find them, we type the medicine (active ingredient) in Wiki on our mother language and transfer to the German page. At the end of the article or in the right column there is a Handelsnamen line – medicines in German-speaking countries will be listed there.

For example. I searched for my mother Creon. We are looking for the active substance – it is pancreatin, in German it will be Pankreatin. On German page we find trademarks: Cotazym (DE), Enzym Lefax forte (DE), Kreon (DE, AT), Lipazym (DE), Mezym (DE), Ozym (DE), Pancrin (DE, AT), Pangrol (DE), Panpur (DE), Pankreatan (DE), Pankreoflat (AT), Panzynorm (CH, DE), Panzytrat (CH, DE). In a pharmacy, you can search by these names, as well as by the active substance.

All post about #Medicine

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