Czech Republic Medical Insurance
The healthcare system in the Czech Republic is based on a few principles:
- Equal access to services for all the insured;
- Free choice of doctors and healthcare facility;
- Free choice of statutory health insurance companies in the framework of public health insurance
- Multi-source financing for public health insurance.
The healthcare system in the Czech Republic is funded by individuals, employers and the Government. Each resident, with the exception of some vulnerable groups like the disabled, must make mandatory contributions to a public health insurance company in order to entitle public healthcare. There are a number of statutory health insurance companies available for you to choose from and you can change between insurance companies annually. Self-employed personnel can also participate in public health insurance as well. Besides public healthcare, private healthcare is also available.
Residents must be registered with a doctor before receiving treatments, they can register with any doctor of their choice. The doctor must have a contract with one of the health insurance companies. Doctors are responsible for referring patients to hospitals, where hospitals have direct contracts with the insurance companies. Patients who are insured can enjoy mostly free treatment at the point of use. Healthcare services under public healthcare include but are not limited to outpatient, inpatient, emergency care, maternal and child health, dental treatment and some prescription medicine.
EU nationals are entitled to any kind of emergency treatment in case of illnesses or accidents in the Czech Republic and do not need to pay up front. However, non-emergency treatments and repatriation are not covered by the EHIC agreement.
Foreigners who live in the Czech Republic but do not hold permanent residency cards or are not from a nation that maintains a reciprocal agreement with the Czech Republic are not qualified for treatment under the state funded system. They can however join one of two contractual health insurance schemes provided by the General Health Insurance Company (GHIC).
Private health insurance is also available in the Czech Republic. However, it may entail more paperwork on application compared to public health insurance. There is always a possibility that some public hospitals and doctors might not recognise the insurance provider and may require the patient to make payment for any treatment up front. This may create a financial burden for the patient, especially when involving major surgeries. Some private health insurance companies may require medical check-ups to obtain insurance.
Like in any system, there are always some issues. One of the problems of the healthcare system in the Czech Republic includes lack of money. In 2007, the expenditure spent on healthcare in the Czech Republic has fallen below 7% of GDP, while the cost of medicine has risen about 11% in the same year. Another issue is lack of qualified doctors, every year there are more than 200 doctors leaving the Czech Republic, which is around 20% of the number of doctors graduating from medical faculties each year. The lack of qualified doctors and medical staff in hospitals lowers the standard of the country’s healthcare. Hospitals also rely more on foreign doctors. Moreover, the salary of doctors in the Czech Republic is extremely low and many doctors receive bribes from Western drug companies. This unhealthy act has imposed risks on the lives of the country’s citizens.