Latvia Medical Insurance
The Republic of Latvia is a north-eastern European country with a coastline along the Baltic Sea. Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, the Russian Federation to the east, Lithuania to the south and Belarus to the south west. This strategic location between Scandinavia, Western Europe and former Soviet Republics has maintained Latvia as an attractive hub for culture and commerce. Their territory covers 64,589 km², with a low plains landscape and extensive forests covering over 40% of the land area and forming Latvia’s most important natural resource. Travelers to Latvia will enjoy a compact country, rich in history and recreation with a temperate seasonal climate. The capital city, Riga, is one of the most attractive cities in Eastern Europe.
Latvia has had a tumultuous recent political history; gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joining the European Union a little over a decade later in 2004. Their economy has likewise endured a transition, enjoying substantial GDP growth earlier in the decade before becoming derailed by the 2008 financial crisis and enduring one of the worst recessions in the EU. This all has impacted the Latvian government’s capacity to adequately fund their public health care sector. Latvia consistently places in the lower strata the Euro Health Consumer Index, indicating a medical care system that falls below the standards of its other member states. There are considerable waiting times as well as a shortage of medical supplies, trained personnel and lack of advanced medical equipment in rural areas. However, there are private healthcare facilities in Riga that are up to the standards normally found in other Western European countries.
The Ministry of Health in Latvia is responsible for developing health policy guidelines and regulating the state healthcare system, with local councils entrusted with autonomy to manage district health sectors. The Latvian healthcare system is administered through combination of a tax-financed legislative health care provision, with a social insurance institutional structure that represents a purchaser–provider split, together with a mix of public and private providers. Tax revenue allocated by Parliament for health-related purposes goes through the Treasury to the State Compulsory Health Insurance Agency (SCHIA), a state-run organization under the Ministry of Health, which acts as a collaborative pool for health funds, both public and private. Providers contracting with the SCHIA tend to be predominantly private in the case of primary care; public in the case of secondary care, with ownership concentrated at the local government level; and exclusively public in the case of tertiary care, with ownership concentrated at the state level.
Latvia’s public medical services are available to all citizens and resident expatriates who contribute to the obligatory state funded healthcare system. The Latvian public health system will provide patients with basic medical services which include: child and maternity care, post-surgical rehabilitation, preventative healthcare, treatment for serious diseases, immunization vaccinations and emergency treatments. Prescription medication for certain vulnerable groups (pregnant women, children, elderly) is also made available. All medical costs which are not explicitly covered by the basic healthcare insurance plan in Latvia will otherwise need to be paid for by the patient out-of-pocket or through private health insurance. These co-payment costs have been rising in conjunction with all public finances being affected by the recession.
Expatriates relocating to Latvia without a preexisting employment policy will need to take out international private health insurance policy for Latvia in order to obtain a residence permit for the country. It is also strongly advised that all foreign nationals, visiting or working in Latvia, obtain Latvian international health insurance. The standard of state provided medical care in the country may not be fully adequate to meet all healthcare requirements. Cover for repatriation is also strongly recommended. With Latvia included as a member of the European Union, the holder of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is entitled to public health services in emergency situations. Extensive medical treatment and out-patient care would not be covered however.
The capital city Riga and the suburbs surrounding it have the most comprehensive health services available in Latvia. There are over 10 hospitals available in the municipal area, featuring 24-hour emergency care, specialist analysis and some of the best trained medical consultants in the country. Districts hospitals throughout Latvia are adept at administering in-patient and out-patient care and surgery. Expect lengthy waiting lists when seeking services from a state hospital and the possibility of being treated with outdated equipment. Those traveling in more remote and rural areas should be warned that medical services may not offer adequate assistance. In the case of an emergency an air evacuation may be required. Such service is very expensive and the ability to pay out of pocket or present an insurance document proving coverage may be required before a patient will be transported.
Private healthcare facilities are also present in Latvia, providing the option of additional coverage for health services not provided by the state plan. These private clinics are largely concentrated in certain prosperous pockets of Latvia as much of the populace cannot afford them. These facilities are of western standard and well equipped to provide health services to meet a wide variety of medical needs. Since medical costs at private medical facilities, or for expatriates at public facilities, can be expensive within Latvia, an international medical insurance care plan is recommended to protect you and your family from any extensive medical expenses.
Those traveling to Latvia with a pre-existing condition, that requires medication, may want to take ample stock with them as pharmacies there may not carry the most modern pharmaceuticals. Travelers also should also be cautious of petty theft and robbery. Vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis is recommended as it is quite common in more rural areas, especially in the summer.
Pacific Prime will consult and offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs should you plan to travel to Latvia. We offer a wide variety of health care plans and travel insurance policies with possible benefit packages including dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many more. Please contact our professional advisors today for a free quote and enjoy the security that our extensive Health Insurance Plans can provide.