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The standard of healthcare in the Czech Republic is generally high – in fact, the country's healthcare scheme has been praised as one of the best in the EU. The affordability and standard of medical treatment has even seen the country emerge as a popular destination for medical tourism in Europe.
It's compulsory to have health insurance in the Czech Republic, whether through a public or private health insurance provider. Czech citizens, residents, and anyone working for a Czech employer are automatically insured under the country's public healthcare system and pay monthly contributions. Other long-term visitors will have to use a private insurance company and short-term travellers are expected to have appropriate travel insurance.
Public healthcare in Czech Republic
Czech public healthcare is excellent and heavily subsidised, and everyone on the Czech healthcare system receives equal access to care. Many doctors in public hospitals are Western-trained and able to speak English, though this is not always the case.
Although the level of care in public hospitals is extremely good, patients may experience long waiting periods before receiving treatment. Some expats using the public sector have also complained of doctors being short-tempered or unsympathetic, but this is largely due to the high turnover of patients and short consultation times and shouldn't be taken personally.
Private healthcare in Czech Republic
Czech private medical care is excellent and the staff at private hospitals are highly qualified. Although private healthcare tends to be more expensive than public healthcare in the Czech Republic, many private hospitals are better equipped to cater to expat patients. This is because private medical centres have a higher proportion of English-speaking staff and private clinics have a more service-oriented approach to providing medical care. A further advantage is that patients often do not have to wait as long to receive treatment as they might at public hospitals.
Health insurance in Czech Republic
The Czech Republic provides free medical treatment to Czech citizens, permanent residents and foreigners working for a local company through a universal healthcare system that uses an approved Czech health insurance company. The largest health insurance company is the state-owned Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna (VZP). Czech citizens, registered foreign residents and employees of companies based in the country must make regular and compulsory contributions to this fund. It is mandatory for employers to pay a portion of the monthly fee with the employee contributing the remainder of the fee. Under this scheme, expats are also usually required to pay a small stipend for treatment received.
EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.
Expats in the Czech Republic without an EHIC, who do not have permanent residency and are not employed by a Czech company are not entitled to free medical care. That said, it's still compulsory to have health insurance and expats staying in the country for over 90 days will be required to show proof that they are covered under a private healthcare scheme. In such a case, it's imperative to arrange for private insurance in advance. Those staying in the country for less than 90 days will need to show proof of travel health insurance.
Pharmacies in Czech Republic
Pharmacies, some of which can be found attached to hospitals, are widely available in the Czech Republic with some open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expats should note that prescriptions are only valid for a set period of time. Prescriptions from emergency services expire after two days, antibiotic prescriptions expire after five days, and all other prescriptions expire after two weeks.
Emergency services in Czech Republic
Emergency services in the Czech Republic are generally good, as are ambulance response times. In the case of an emergency, dial 112 to be connected to the EU emergency line. This guarantees an English-speaking operator. Otherwise, Czech medical emergency services can be reached on 155.
►Read Working in Czech Republic for information about the job market
"Overall, the standard of healthcare is very good. Medical staff are highly qualified, and equipment and procedures are up to contemporary standards." Read more about Kevan, a Canadian expat, and his move to the Czech Republic.
Are you an expat living in Czech Republic?
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Expat Health Insurance
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