Health Care in the Czech Republic Explained
Nearly all European countries have a universal health care system. Though some people refer to it as European free health care system, in reality, it’s not completely free. While each country has its own variation, the common denominator is that everyone pays for health care as a member of society — intending to minimize the overall expenses and share the costs and risks so that the unlucky few are not bankrupted by medical costs. While no system is perfect, European universal health care does mean that everyone is taken care of — including foreigners.
Are You Automatically Eligible to the Public Health Care in the Czech Republic?
The Czech public health insurance system is based on obligatory participation of insured persons. Foreign nationals working under a legal employment contract with a company registered in the Czech Republic may enter the public health insurance system, which is state-subsidized. If you are employed in the Czech Republic, you can be sure that your employer is paying contributions for your health insurance.
All the others, including family members of legal employees, must purchase private health insurance. This segregation was put in place in 1995 to avoid the practice of so called medical tourism which is causing a negative effects on the health budgets of some European countries.
Important: Before visiting a doctor you must check if the doctor has a valid contract with your insurance provider, otherwise your visit won’t be refunded.
Most medical facilities have concluded a contract with an insurance company on settlement of costs for healthcare and only provide insured patients and cases of emergency. You should be aware that having public healthcare provision does not cover you if you visit private medical facilities – which many foreigners opt to do.
If you work on a freelance basis then you will have to make payments either on monthly or annual basis (13,5 % of the tax base).
European Health Insurance Card
If you are insured in other EU country and you own the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by your national health insurance provider, it might be not enough to feel completely safe and healthy. This card allows you to get only the most necessary medical assistance. Don’t be surprised if you get asked for a payment after visiting the doctor’s office.
For this reason – if you’re thinking about travelling to the Czech Republic – we recommend you to get also travel insurance which allows you to get complex medical care during your stay in the Czech Republic. EHIC does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property.
When You Should Consider Providing Yourself Private Health Insurance
If you are self-employed, a business owner, student, or retiree, you must purchase private health insurance.
You can choose either local or international insurer. Even if Czech insurance companies are more preferable by Czech health system, we advise you to take a look at the international insurers’ offer. The price is comparable but the conditions differ.
Some of doctors might refuse to examine you. Why? The most probable reason is because you are not registered. Doctors simply don’t want to risk because of lack of knowledge about you and your health history.
Not everyone knows about it, but you can switch your health insurance provider once a year. This information might be useful according to the various conditions or discounts offered by them. For example, sometimes insurers offer special benefits such as vouchers to spa etc. Always check a few options and choose best according to your expectations and needs.
Based on international agreements, medical travel insurance is not required from citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cuba, Japan, Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey, Serbia, and Yemen. The same exception applies to participants of the Erasmus Mundus program, Fulbright scholarship program, European Voluntary Service of the EC Youth in Action programme. Foreign nationals who wish to use these advantages should follow instructions of Ministry of Interior.
All other foreign students that don’t have EHIC and intend to stay in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days are required to purchase comprehensive health insurance.
Types of Private Health Insurance
From private insurance you can choose either urgent care insurance (what is included: acute and necessary help, necessary hospitalization, necessary medication, acute teeth pain, transportation – in words, it will keep you alive) or complex insurance which includes complex health care, medications, prenatal and postnatal care, transportation, reparation, and additional care (depends on the insurance option).
Is Dental Care Covered?
Emergency dental care at hospitals is always covered up to CZK 5.000. There are no routine dental insurance plans available from any insurance company in the Czech Republic.
Why Should You Consider Private Health Insurance?
Experts from Unicare claim that there are 2 most important benefits you can get when you decide to provide yourself a private insurance:
- Individual approach (public health system usually grants maximum 15 minutes visit at the GP)
- Full examination within 2 hours (comparing to few weeks in public health care)
Unicare offers also home visits and they are open on Saturdays!
Materials provided by Unicare Medical Center in Prague at a monthly workshop for expats at Cafe The Spot, Prague Vinohrady.
Established in 1994, Unicare Medical Center is the first private hospital and health facility for the international community in the Czech Republic.
Written by: Urszula Turowska
Follow our workshops about Living and Working in the Czech Republic on Facebook.