Located in southern Europe due directly east of Italy, Croatia has been a host to many foreign rulers in the past, including the Roman, Venetian, Italian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Post World war one and the collapse of the Austro Hungarian Empire, the Croats Serbs and Slovenes formed the kingdom known as Yugoslavia. Post world war two Yugoslavia became a communist state under the reign of Marshal Tito. Although in 1991 Croatia gained independence from Yugoslavia, it took 4 years of ruthless and bitter fighting for the remaining Serb forces to leave Croatia. Croatia has a wide range of varying standards of healthcare facilities ranging from the very basic, to high quality facilities which cover all of your possible needs.
Croatia since its independence in 1991 has been in numerous wars and border disputes with Serbia. This has never allowed the Croatian government the time and resources to fully develop a proper healthcare system until all conflicts officially ended and occupying Serbian forces left in 1998. Since then the Croatian healthcare standards have increased dramatically due to strong growth in the economy. Expatriates are starting to immigrate to Croatia in due to the strong growth in economy, and whilst most health regulations in Croatia are very similar to that of the European Union and therefore seem very straightforward, there are some significant differences between the systems.
Health insurance for citizens in Croatia is provided by the state, however, it does not fully cover citizens and many services are not included in the mandatory national healthcare system. Extra insurance is optional. It is provided by private insurers and covers the costs of hotel amenities or a higher standard of care in public hospitals (e.g. choice of doctor, single rooms with television, air conditioning, etc.). It can also be used for preventive check-ups and treatment in privately owned practices contracted by the respective insurance company. Additionally, since 2004 it can be used to cover co-payments charged by public providers.
Every year in Croatia the amount spent on health as a percentage of GDP is generally around the 9% mark. This is slightly more spent on health than other countries like the U.S, Australia, Canada and the UK, who generally tend to spend around the 8% mark. Despite spending a lot of its GDP on health Croatia still has problems inherent in its healthcare system.
Croatia’s faces two primary problems in regards to healthcare. First is funding and the second primary issue is health coverage. In Croatia, historically health inflation has grown more than the countries GDP. This, in the past, has lead to funding being taken out of other sectors of the economy and placed into health resulting in a lack of funding for other sectors. Another outcome that increased medical costs have lead to is, the deprivation of some services to citizens, who therefore in turn must take out private insurance if they still desire coverage for these services. Despite this, recently, Croatia’s increase in economic growth has lead to national healthcare having a more extensive coverage.
Coverage for access to medical facilities in Croatia is very good and you can be assured that you will have a medical facility near you in the case of an emergency, if you are on the mainland. However, once you start to venture into one of many of Croatia’s attractively exotic islands the coverage basically stops there. If you are on a day trip or staying over a few nights on one of the islands and for whatever reason require medical assistance you will have to be taken, either by boat or air, to the mainland for treatment. For this reason it is advised that you take precaution and stay aware to your health as treatment may be hours away.
For those who can afford it there are some private healthcare facilities in Croatia who can offer higher standards of care, which include treatment on demand, single rooms, air conditioned rooms, TV’s and other luxuries of this nature. These facilities however are confined to Zagreb, the capital and large metropolitan areas.
It is worth noting that the UK and Croatia have a reciprocal health agreement where no charge is made for ‘emergency’ treatment. Therefore if you are a UK citizen in Croatia you will have the peace of mind knowing that you have basic health insurance emergency cover. You may be expected to pay for any other service you require, which is not covered by the bilateral health agreement. However alternatively you could take out international health insurance and experience this peace of mind any where you find yourself.
Overall Croatia has a well rounded healthcare service. As is true with any country in the world, there are some problems inherent in the system; however most people are able to receive the care that they need when they need it, except of course if you happen to be on an outlying island. The only way to avoid the issues and concerns of any healthcare system in the world is through a quality international health insurance plan. These Croatia expat health insurance plans give you the flexibility to go to the doctor or hospital of your choice, meaning that no matter where in the world you may be located, from Australia to Zimbabwe, you will always be able to receive the highest standard of care available.
For more information about Croatia health insurance, the locally compliant international health insurance plans that we can offer there, or to receive a free quote, please contact one of our expert advisers today.
Croatia Travel Tips
Whenever you travel overseas it is often useful to understand the local laws and customs in the destination country, as they can often be very different to your own. Croatia’s legal system may be similar to that of many western countries; however there are a few differences in culture which are worth noting as to avoid possible trouble. As such we have provided some Croatia travel advice so that you may stay safe and better enjoy your travels.
Please be advised that the information contained on this page is not fully comprehensive and may be liable to change without prior warning; as such you should consult a travel expert or your local embassy prior to departing on your journey.
- Terrorism in Croatia remains a low threat, organized crime; however, is a more serious threat to tourists and foreigners. Thus it is advised you remain aware that organized crime is a threat.
- The biggest threat in Croatia is the unexploded landmines from the war which remain largely in the heavily forested areas around Croatia. For anyone who plans trips to the mountains and forest areas, it is suggested you hire a professional recognized guide. Areas most notorious for unexploded mines are the Danube region (Eastern Slavonia) and the former Krajina.
- It is advised that you carry your passport or a form of ID with you at all times, as you must show a form of ID if required.
- Foreign driving licenses are valid for up to six months from entry into Croatia. If you are staying longer, you need to apply for a Croatian license. International Driving Licenses are not valid in Croatia.
- Road conditions in and around Zagreb and the larger towns are of a generally good standard. However, you should take care when overtaking and use caution around other road users who may unexpectedly overtake repeatedly in slower traffic. It is common that minor roads are unlit at night.
- It is obligatory to carry a fluorescent vest in your car whilst driving in Croatia. You must keep the vest in the car and not in the boot. You must wear the vest whilst attending to a breakdown, e.g. changing a tire.
- In Croatia it is illegal to drive with more than 0.5% blood alcohol level, and to drive whilst using a mobile phone.
- In recent times there have been a number of reported incidents of gangs robbing car occupants after either indicating that they are in trouble and require assistance, or pulling alongside a car and indicating that there seems to be something wrong and they should pull over. Hence it is advised to exercise caution when events like these present themselves.
- Croatia has also adopted a law expressing zero tolerance on alcohol consumption by those in charge of yachts and other boats. If you intend to take charge of a boat in Croatia you should not consume alcohol. The penalties for being caught drunk in charge of a boat are likely to be heavy.
- There have been a number of cases of yacht/boat skippers being arrested and taken to court for entering a non-designated entry port when arriving in Croatia, without informing the authorities. This has resulted in the skippers being heavily fined. If you are considering sailing to Croatia you should be aware of the rules on entry to Croatia. Enter only at a designated port/harbor; if this is not possible due to a problem, contact the local harbor master or the police before entering a non-designated port/harbor.
- All passport holders require a valid passport. Since February 2008 you require three months’ remaining validity on your passport to enter Croatia.
- The loss or theft of a passport should be reported immediately to the local police and your countries local Embassy. The Embassy can assist you in obtaining a replacement passport