Albania Medical Insurance
Albania lies on the Adriatic and Ionian coast, North of Greece, South of Montenegro, West of Macedonia and across the water from Italy. It is part of the area of Eastern Europe called the Balkans. Albania has an area of 28,748 square kilometers. The capital, Tiranë, also known as Tirana, is situated in the West central part of the country near the Adriatic Sea. Albania has a variety of climatic conditions, being situated in the transition zone between the typical Mediterranean climate in the West and the moderate continental climate in the East. The average annual temperature is 15° C (59° F). Rainy winters (with frequent storms) and dry, hot summers are typical of the coastal plain. Summer rainfall is more frequent and winters are colder in the mountainous interior. Albania is a varied destination offering many pleasures, including friendly people, fascinating Ottoman cities with rich histories, magnificent mountain scenery and charming villages.
The healthcare system in Albania is mainly public, while private practice is limited to a small niche market sector. The Albanian law guarantees equal access to healthcare for all citizens. Public healthcare in Albania is the major provider of health services, health promotion, prevention, diagnosis and treatments for the population of Albania. Primarily, the Government of Albania funds the State healthcare system. Other sources of funding include contributions from eligible employers, employees and the self-employed, a certain percentage of their wages or income are deducted and contributed to the insurance scheme. However, poverty in Albania is rather common, and only a few people can afford to make such contributions. As a result, many residents/citizens fail to receive the required medical care and medicines for their illnesses. The failure to collect a substantial amount of contributions means that healthcare system in Albania is strongly reliant on charitable aid for medical supplies and drugs.
The private healthcare sector in Albania is still developing, and it covers most of the pharmaceutical and dental services as well as some clinics for specialised diagnoses, mainly being situated in Tirana. State insurance does not cover medical costs incurred in the private sector, as a result, they are only accessible to people who can afford to pay for them. In Albania, doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash at the time of service.
The Ministry of Health and Environmental Protection oversee the health service. It takes the leading role in the public sector; it is the developer and regulator of the country’s health strategies and policies, as well as the coordinating entity of all participants both inside and outside the public system.
The Albanian State healthcare system is divided into three tiers of service, namely:-
i) Primary health care - includes health and hygiene centres, health education centres, maternity and paediatric clinics, local emergency rooms and rural hospitals.
ii) Secondary care - consists of medical and diagnostic services in hospitals and polyclinics.
iii) Tertiary care - consists of scientific research medicine including four national university centres with diagnostic services.
Hospitals in Albania are located mainly in urban areas like Tiranë and Durrës, however, the bulk of the country’s population live in the countryside, and there are not enough health centres to support everyone, creating an imbalance in the medical system in providing healthcare for this population.
Under the public healthcare system in Albania, patients have a choice to register with their preferred doctor. In order to visit any specialist doctors or consultants, patients are required to receive a referral from their General Practioners (GP). Unfortunately, most of the GPs in the country lack a proper level of training. This has resulted in patients’ lack of confidence in the skills of GPs and very often patients will bypass GPs and go directly to a specialist. The Ministry of Health has tried to put a stop to this by restoring the old system of GP referrals by introducing fees to prevent people from avoiding their GP. However, this move has achieved few results. Specialists actually exacerbate the problem by encouraging patients to apply directly to them. The reason for such behaviour is that consultants rely heavily on under-the-table payments to increase their income. Corruption is an unfortunate fact of life in Albania and it is a hard and difficult process to resolve the problem, especially in healthcare, over the short term.
In summary, Albania remains one the poorest countries in Europe, with a sluggish economy and high unemployment rates. Albania spends around 6.1% of GDP on healthcare. Medical facilities in Albania are poor and there is a lack of specialists, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Moreover, hygiene standards are lower than the rest of Europe. The Albanian healthcare system is rigidly structured and centralised and has difficulty in meeting the medical needs for all its citizens. Doctors and nurses are often cut off from new techniques and developments in medicine; the system is subsequently finding it hard to cope with modern day health issues like drug abuse, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
Pacific Prime is a one-stop insurance brokerage service provider for you when travelling to Albania. We offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs, including benefits such as dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many others. We offer a large variety of health care plans as well as travellers insurance plans. Contact our professional advisers today to enjoy full insurance protection such as a Medical Insurance Plan for yourself and your family.