Healthcare in Czech Republic
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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 is 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
Many doctors are in public hospitals are Western-trained and able to speak English, though this is not always the case. 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.
Although Czech public healthcare is excellent and heavily subsidised, patients might have to endure long waiting periods before receiving treatment.
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 because 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 care to Czech citizens through compulsory contributions to 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 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.
The Czech Republic has reciprocal healthcare agreements with other countries. In particular, EU citizens have access to free medical care in the Czech Republic through their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
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. However, it is 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 is 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.
Health hazards in Czech Republic
There are no major health risks in the Czech Republic at present. Tap water is safe to drink, though expats should exercise common sense. Food-borne diseases are not a major concern as long as meals are prepared in hygienic conditions.
Expats travelling to remote areas where they might be bitten by bats or ticks should get appropriate vaccinations for rabies and tick-borne encephalitis.
Emergency services in Czech Republic
Emergency services (Záchranná Služba) 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.