Your guide to health insurance in Macedonia
If you are planning to move or travel to Macedonia, you may have questions regarding how their healthcare system works, as well as whether international/private health insurance in Macedonia is needed. Fortunately, this brief guide offers valuable information about Macedonia, its healthcare system, and offers useful travel tips for expats and travelers alike. Read on to discover more, or click below to obtain a no-obligation, free quote.
Important note: This page is not fully comprehensive and is subject to change without prior notice. It is advisable to consult with a local Macedonia representative or the Maecodnian embassy should you have any doubts before you depart on your journey.
Macedonia, North Macedonia, or the Republic of Macedonia, is a small but quintessential country. Travelers and expats that find themselves in Macedonia for work or leisure are bound to be inspired by its majestic mountains, wild forests, pristine lakes, and iconic architecture. The country is rich in culture, antiquities, monasteries, and churches that offer a beautiful contrast of the past with the present, reflecting its historical and cultural legacy. It is also a paradise for outdoor activities with many opportunities for hikers, mountain climbers, and skiers.
Geography and climate
Macedonia is a landlocked country, which is bordered by Serbia to the North, Kosovo to the Northwest, Bulgaria to the East, Greece to the South, and Albania to the West. Macedonia covers a total area of 25,713 km2 (9,928 sq mi), which is slightly bigger than the American state of Vermont. The current population stands at over 2 million, with most residing in Skopje - the capital city.
Due to its geographical location, there are three main climatic zones in the country: temperate Mediterranean, mountainous, and mildly continental. The climate in Macedonia features hot summers and cold winters, and autumns that tend to be dry in the country. The average temperature in July is between 20 and 23°C, while in January it is between –20 and 0°C. Snowfalls can be heavy in the winter.
Overview of Macedonia healthcare system
The Ministry of Health (MOH) oversees the country’s healthcare system and governs the Macedonia Health Insurance Fund (HIF), which is responsible for collecting the contributions, allocating funds, supervising nationwide operations, and contracting healthcare providers.
In Macedonia, all citizens, long-term residents, and expats - provided they have registered - are eligible to receive free state-funded healthcare. The country offers a universal public healthcare system, which covers unlimited visits to primary healthcare doctors and services. There is also the option of accessing the private healthcare system on a subsidized basis for certain treatments that aren’t covered by the public system.
Employer and employee contribution for the HIF
Employers are responsible for registering their employees with the HIF. It is mandatory that employers contribute to the healthcare fund. Employees are required to contribute 0.5% of their gross salary for insurance against work-related illnesses or diseases. Many companies do opt to contribute additional sums to the health fund to provide health services coverage to their employees. Contributions made by employed family members also cover dependent family members.
The public healthcare system in Macedonia
The public healthcare system in Macedonia has undergone significant improvements over the last few decades, although the standards are deemed lower than other European countries.
Generally, the public healthcare system provides most of the medical services within the country free of charge. These include:
- Treatment by specialists
- Emergency treatment including ambulance transportation
- Home visits by doctors
- Dental treatment of oral diseases
- Surgical operations
- Pregnancy and childbirth services
As is the case with any universal healthcare system, there are always long queuing times that can be a burden. The sharing of wards might also be a little hard to bear especially when noise and disturbances can easily creep in.
Should you desire to receive immediate treatment at a doctor or clinic of your choice, an expat or international medical insurance plan will be the optimal solution for you. This will give you peace of mind knowing that medical costs will be covered quickly and settled efficiently in case of an accident or illness for yourself and your family while traveling to, or living in Macedonia.
Registering to the public healthcare system
Macedonian citizens and expats can register with any General Practitioner (GP) of their choice. However, for people seeking public healthcare, they must ensure that the chosen doctor is contracted under the HIF scheme. Under normal circumstances, in order to visit a specialist doctor or to be admitted into a hospital, patients are required to receive a referral from their doctor/consultant. In the case of an emergency, no GP referral is required for the hospital admission. Individuals requiring emergency medical assistance should head straight to the nearest emergency department.
Private healthcare in Macedonia
Private healthcare is also available in Macedonia. Private clinics are run and managed by independent doctors and specialists. All equipment and personnel are funded by the doctors themselves and through private insurance contributions. If you choose to visit a doctor at a private clinic, you will not be covered by state healthcare and are required to make an out-of-pocket payment for all services rendered.
Some Macedonian citizens choose to buy individual health insurance on top of the basic state healthcare coverage to ensure that they are fully covered for all eventualities. There are a large number of private hospitals spread throughout the country, though they are mainly concentrated in the capital city Skopje and other urban areas. Speak to an advisor to find out the private hospitals that are included under our health insurance plans.
Visiting a pharmacy in Macedonia
In Macedonia, there are state-run pharmacies as well as private pharmacies. Only doctors and qualified consultants can prescribe medicine. Prescription medicine is only available from a qualified and registered chemist or from a hospital pharmacy.
The Ministry of Health draws up a positive list of reimbursable prescription medicines, although in some cases patients may have to make co-payments up to 20% of the cost.
Citizens who belong to vulnerable groups of society are exempt from charges. If you visit a private pharmacy, you have to pay the full cost of your medicine. In areas where there is no state pharmacy, the HIF has an agreement for the pharmacist to provide reimbursable prescription medicine.
Macedonia travel tips
Here are a few travel tips to bear in mind:
- The official currency of Macedonia is Denar. It is recommended to exchange your foreign currency to Denar before your travels. Plan ahead to get the best rates. Payment for goods using credit cards is not particularly common in the country. It is good to carry cash in case credit cards are not accepted.
- It is prohibited to smoke in public places including bars, cafes, restaurants, and other places with large crowds.
- The crime rate in Macedonia is rather low but we encourage travelers and expats to exercise caution, especially in crowded and touristy areas. Pickpockets are present where there are crowds.
- The CDC recommends the following vaccinations for Macedonia:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
We would encourage you to contact your local GP or travel specialist medical practitioner for guidance on the necessary vaccinations to take before traveling to Macedonia.
Contact numbers for emergency services in Macedonia
For emergencies, the following numbers will come in handy:
- Police: 192
- Fire department: 193
- Ambulance: 194
- Crisis management center: 195
Is it advisable to get private health insurance for Macedonia?
Travelers and expatriates visiting Macedonia are advised to take out a comprehensive international health insurance policy before arriving in the country. The publicly funded healthcare system is only available to residents, so expats without the proper residency permit will have to pay out of pocket for any healthcare and treatment they receive. The cost of care and treatment can easily add up, and become a financial burden if not covered by a health plan.
Medical evacuation cover
Medical evacuation is considered useful, especially when expats are far from home and unfamiliar with the healthcare system they have access to. Securing medical evacuation cover will ensure effective management of medical treatment during emergencies.
How to find the best private health insurance in Macedonia
There are many insurance options available in Macedonia, which is why it can be a challenging task to find the best private health insurance policy. One of the best decisions travelers and expats can make is to consult an experienced insurance broker like Pacific Prime.
With over two decades of experience matching expats with the most optimal health insurance solutions on the market, we leverage our close partnerships with all major insurers and have an extensive portfolio of all the best plans. In addition to having the best health insurance policies, we also offer unparalleled service and outstanding claims support.
Contact Pacific Prime today to secure the best insurance solution with the help of consultants that can provide impartial advice and support.