There are three types of medical prescriptions that can be prescribed by a doctor in Germany: pink, green or blue. Who bears the cost of the medicine, you or your health insurance, is determined based on the type of your medical prescription.
1. Pink Prescription
This is the most common type of prescription. Drugs prescribed on a pink slip generally cannot be obtained without a doctor’s consent and prescription. The cost of such drugs is borne both by the health insurance company and the individual. However, the health insurance company covers most of the cost of the prescription, and the individual only has to pay a nominal amount, i.e. only 10% of the total cost of the drug, from a minimum cash payment of five Euros to a maximum cash payment of ten Euros.
It is recommended that the individual purchases his medicines from the Apotheke within a time span of 4 weeks after the issuance of the prescription by the doctor. After this period, the individual may be required to cover the entire cost of the prescription himself.
2. Blue Prescription
This type of prescription is valid for those individuals with a private health insurance. In this case, the individual is required to make the full payment of the drug up front, and then send the receipt to his health insurance company for reimbursement.
This prescription is usually valid up to a period of 3 months from the date of issue.
3. Green Prescription
In year 2004, the German government introduced a system of ‘green prescription’ which applies to non-prescription medicines, i.e. those medicines that are no longer reimbursed by the statutory health insurance. The purpose of this prescription is to signal to the patient that the relevant medication can be used in their case, though the cost of the medicine has to be borne by him, and also to inform the patient about the main features of the medication, such as name, size of package, active ingredients, etc.
This type of prescription generally does not have an expiration period, and is valid indefinitely.
4. Yellow Prescription
This type of prescription is generally for medicines with very strict regulations, e.g. morphine or other strong painkillers. For this kind of prescription, there are three copies for documentation: one for the health insurance company, one for the pharmacy, and one for the prescriber. These types of prescriptions have identification numbers, and are strictly controlled by a central authority, i.e. the Bundesopiumstelle.