Despite years of Western-imposed sanctions that have caused problems in the medical field, Iran’s medical care is fairly modern.
Healthcare in Iran can be split into three sectors – the public governmental system, the private sector and NGOs. As a result of Iran’s growing population, there is a lot of pressure on the public healthcare system in Iran. The quality of hospitals varies according to location but, in the bigger cities such as Tehran, expats will find hospitals that meet international standards with well-trained medical staff.
Although there is a marginal difference between the quality of healthcare offered by private and public hospitals in Iran, private hospitals are known to have better facilities and speedier service. English-speaking staff should be available in both private and public hospitals.
Public healthcare in Iran
In line with the national constitution, Iranians are entitled to basic healthcare. Most also receive subsidised prescription drugs and vaccinations. This healthcare does not extend to expats, but Iran's extensive network of public clinics and hospitals is considerably cheaper than in Western countries.
Most public hospital facilities in Iran are operated by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education. Although waiting times are often long, public hospitals provide an acceptable standard of service.
Private healthcare in Iran
Wealthier Iranians opt to use private clinics and hospitals, which offer a slightly higher standard of care and better facilities. That said, the cost of treatment at such facilities can be quite high.
Despite the cost, private healthcare in Iran is still fairly cheap in comparison to other neighbouring countries.
Health insurance in Iran
There are few, if any, reciprocal medical arrangements between Iran and other countries. Expats will therefore need private medical insurance whether they plan to use public or private healthcare services. Expat's employers will typically cover this expense in Iran.
Most comprehensive private health insurance policies in Iran will typically cover services such as hospitalisation, dental treatment, prescription drugs, diagnostic testing and emergency medical care among other services. Owing to the sanctions against Iran, international private health insurance providers may not be able to pay doctors directly, so expats may have to foot the bill and claim it back from their insurance providers. It is advisable for expats to thoroughly understand their private medical insurance terms before seeking healthcare.
Health hazards in Iran
Malaria can be a risk in rural parts of Iran. Expats in these areas should take the necessary precautions, such as keeping well covered and using an effective mosquito repellent. Cholera outbreaks also occur during the summer months. It’s therefore best to drink bottled water at all times.
The most common problem experienced by new arrivals is heat stroke and sunburn. Be careful about spending too much time outdoors. Always take precautionary measures such as wearing hats and sunblock. It’s also wise to keep well hydrated, especially during summer.
Pharmacies in Iran
Iran has a fairly developed pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacies can easily be found in all major towns and cities, and they stock a wide variety of medications. They can also order medication that isn't readily available.
Expats will need to pay for medication and then claim it back through their health insurance. Medication in Iran is generally affordable. If expats need to bring drugs and pharmaceuticals into the country, there are strict regulations to be followed. Expats should therefore ensure that they carry all the necessary paperwork when travelling with medication.
Emergency services in Iran
Emergency services in Iran are improving, but remain limited, especially outside the main cities. The emergency medical system in Iran has a variety of ambulance vehicles, including vans and helicopters, but the system is occasionally constrained. This means that, in the event of an emergency, it may be faster to get oneself to the hospital via private transport or a taxi instead of waiting for an ambulance. Nonetheless, expats can contact the numbers below in an emergency:
Fire department: 125
Are you an expat living in Iran?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Iran. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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