Romania Medical Insurance
After decades behind the Iron Curtain, Romania toppled the Communist Ceausescu regime in 1989 and turned its focus westward, joining NATO in 2004 and European Union in 2007. The upper middle-income nation lies between central and southeast Europe, and boasts some of the largest protected virgin forests on the continent. Perhaps most famously known as the home of the legendary Count Dracula of Transylvania, Romania has been catapulted into modernity during the past two decades.
While the capital city of Bucharest and most other Romanian cities may be nearly indistinguishable from other major European capitals in terms of prosperity, the country suffers from serious rural poverty. Only about 50 percent of rural residents have access to improved sanitation facilities.
Although Romania has quickly modernised, its health care has not yet caught up to developed country levels. Life expectancy at birth in Romania is below the developed country average for Europe, at 69 years for males and 76 years for females. Total health expenditure per capita is USD610, less than one quarter of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European regional average – this figure represents about 5.7 percent of GDP. Romania suffers from a relative shortage of qualified health care workers; its number of doctors, nurses and midwives is about two thirds of the European average. The country has difficulty retaining qualified medical professionals, since many choose to emigrate in search of better economic opportunity.
Romania’s health care system is largely funded publicly, with government spending representing 81 percent of total health expenditure (THE). Most private health care spending is out of pocket. Romania health insurance was only introduced to the country in 2003, and now makes up about 1 percent of private health spending. Current fiscal problems, which plague Europe, are also affecting Romanian health care, as the government currently maintains overdue debts to hospitals and pharmacies. But, as a sign of the country’s increasing economic self-reliance, Romania has not had any significant health care funding from the rest of the world since 2005; although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently approved a EUR3.5 billion line of credit to support social health care spending in the country.
In 2011, Romanian Health Minister Ceske Attila made several steps to reform the health care system, following consultation with the IMF. A co-payment system will be introduced in the first half of the year, to reduce the burden of the state on delivering medical treatment – it was announced that exemptions from co-payment will not exceed 40 percent of patients. Also, a new classification system for ranking hospitals was introduced; it is hoped that this step will help improve access to healthcare care, as well as better categorise patients in terms of urgency of care required, improve efficiency and increase access to care, and reduce costs. Also, an integrated electronic health information system is planned which will maintain a single database of patient history, billing and prescription information in an effort to reduce overall public costs of running medical services. Plans for a public–private partnership in funding emergency care hospitals in of Romania are underway, with a majority of investment coming from overseas funds.
Given the limitations of local health care, many Romanians who can afford it, including President Basescu, go overseas for treatment, often to Austria and Germany. Turkey has proven an increasingly desirable health care destination due to lower medical costs and higher quality services. Several medical care consultancies have been developed, which specialise in giving advice on seeking health care abroad. It is important to note, however, that medical tourists seeking treatment overseas will still have to bear considerable out-of-pocket expenses if not adequately covered by a comprehensive international health insurance policy.
Cardiovascular problems are the top health risk in Romania. Higher than the regional average alcohol and tobacco use have contributed to a large portion of local mortality rates. Romania made a disturbing set of headlines in the 1990s upon discovery of a number of HIV infected orphans and under funded orphanages, but in fact the country’s HIV prevalence rate of 1 per 1,000 adults is far below regional and global norms. However, its tuberculosis (TB) infection rate is nearly three times the European average, the highest overall figure in the European Union, and a very high figure for a developed country. TB largely affects the rural poor of Romania, whose living conditions are substandard, and whose access to modern health care is limited. More disturbing is the increased incidence of various strains of drug resistant, and multiple drug resistant Tuberculosis within the country; diseases which are more costly and time-consuming to treat than typical TB infections.
Before visiting Romania, a visit to a physician or clinic specialising in travel medicine is highly recommended. Routine vaccinations should be updated, including: measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) and poliovaccine, as well as hepatitis A and B. Rabies vaccination is suggested for those who may be exposed to carriers, though risk is relatively low in Romania. Tickborne encephalitis (TBE) and avian flu have also occurred in the region, proper precautions include wearing long sleeved clothing, using insect repellent with DEET and using alcohol based hand sanitiser. As with most destinations, diarrhoea is the most common affliction for travellers. Drinking only bottled water and avoiding raw foods is recommended; over the counter anti-diarrhoeal pills are recommended to treat mild cases.
Due to the standards of healthcare being lower in Romania than that which expatriates from developed countries may be used to, Pacific Prime highly recommends that all travellers to the country obtain a comprehensive Romania health insurance plan. As many Romanian citizens travel overseas to receive medical treatment, it is advisable that any insurance plan purchased within the country offer an emergency evacuation benefit.
If you are planning travel to Romania, Pacific Prime can assist with your international travel health insurance needs. Our experienced teams worldwide would be pleased to provide a no-cost consultation on available insurance options, whether you are travelling solo, with your family or with any type of tour group. Our policies cover a wide range of medical services including: dental, maternity, specialist consultation, transportation, inpatient services and more. Don’t hesitate to contact a Pacific Prime advisor today for further health insurance details and or a free medical insurance consultation.