Serbia Medical Insurance
Serbia is a small, landlocked country, located at the intersection of Central and Southeast Europe. It borders many countries, including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. The population of Serbia is estimated to be over 7 million; 6% of them are refugees, as Serbia has the highest refugee population in all of Europe. The country is divided into 150 municipalities and 24 cities; each regional division has a local self-government and the largest city is the capital, Belgrade. After declaring independence in 2006 after 88 years of being owned by other countries, Serbia's government is now a parliamentary republic, operating under a Prime Minister and a National Assembly. Serbia is home to many national parks and renowned spas, as well as eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, including monasteries and literary memorials. Serbia is also the world's leading frozen fruit exporter, producing 1/3 of the globe's raspberries.
Unfortunately, NATO bombings in 1999 left enduring and detrimental effects on the country, harming both humans and the environment as the soil, air, and water soaked up toxic chemicals released from the factories that were targeted in the bombings, and even left unexploded material in some mountainous areas in Kosovo. After Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, relations between the two areas have been very strained (as Serbia refuses to recognize the succession), and demonstrations and protests result from this tension. These will most likely occur in Belgrade and other larger cities, usually around the national parliament and the presidential palace. It is also advised that tourists do not engage in discussions about the Serbia-Kosovo issue, as the aforementioned tension may lead to violent crime. American citizens are especially at risk on March 24, the anniversary of the day NATO started bombing. Tourists are also recommended to remain vigilant throughout their stay in Serbia as areas visited often by expatriates are always at risk of a potential terrorist attack. The climate causes heavy snowfall and fog in the mountains during winter, and tourists are advised to be careful of this fog especially in the Vojvodina region, as well as to pay attention to the somewhat dilapidated roads, which are not well looked after and can result in accidents. Tourists must also register with police if staying in a private residence (i.e. not a hotel) within 24 hours of arriving in the country, or are at risk for jail time, fines, and being stopped by the airport police when trying to leave the country.
Besides instances of violence, tourists are also at risk for a range of diseases when visiting Serbia, including Hepatitis-A, meningitis, HIV, rabies, and tuberculosis. Fortunately, outbreaks of hepatitis-A and meningitis were localized, occurring in the Vojvodina region. Rabies, on the other hand, has spread to areas that were previously rabies-free for decades, and is now commonly found in parks and on the outskirts of cities.
As a result of these diseases, before traveling to Serbia, it is recommended that one receive the Hepatitis-A vaccine, Hepatitis-B vaccine, and rabies vaccine, as well as purchase water purifying tablets and diarrhea medicine. It is also important to make sure that one's routine vaccinations are up to date, such as the measles vaccine and tetanus vaccine. Drug-resistant tuberculosis and tick-borne encephalitis are both widespread in Eastern Europe and tourists must be responsible while visiting Serbia to not come into contact with any animals and to go to a doctor immediately if they are bitten by a dog or bug of any sort, as well as tell their doctor in their country of residency. Although not as common, visitors to Serbia are still at risk of contracting H5N1 (Avian flu) or Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever.
The average numbers of HIV/Aids and tuberculosis sufferers are lower than regional and global averages, with 1 in 1000 adults ages 15-49 suffering from HIV and 25 in 100,000 suffering from tuberculosis. However, between the ages of 15 and 60, 184 males and 90 females out of 1000 people will die. The infant mortality rate is 6.65 deaths per 1000 live births, and an average couple has .81 children. Due to having the lowest birth rate in Europe combined with the aging population, Serbia has a negative population growth rate of -0.4%.
Healthcare is of a very low standard in Serbia. Funding for state healthcare comes from citizens, and is dependent upon one's salary. For those who cannot pay, such as the elderly or those with a long-term illness, their contribution is made by the state republic budget. This payment program has lead to a severely underfunded healthcare system, despite the fact that 9.9% of Serbia’s GDP is being expended on healthcare, it shows no signs of improving soon. In terms of employees, doctors that have completed a higher level of specialized training are either unemployed or have immigrated to other countries due to the state being unable to pay them appropriate wages. Thus, one may not even encounter a highly qualified doctor while in Serbia, or will have to pay a large sum when they do. With an underfunded, inefficient and insufficient healthcare system that shows little sign of improvement in the near future, it is recommended that expatriates/tourists have protective medical insurance before traveling to Serbia.
There are few, if any, private health clinics available, but the ones that do exist are extremely expensive, as most Serbians cannot afford to pay the extra insurance that is needed to fund them. Some of the more well-known medical institutions in Serbia are the Clinical Center of Vojvodina, the Institute of Mental Health in Belgrade, the Bel Medic General Hospital, the Anlave Diplomatic Clinic, and the Sremska Kamenica Institute, located in a neighborhood of Novi Sad, one of the larger cities in Serbia. In terms of emergency services, high fees are incurred by the patient due to the country’s extremely limited resource pool of funds, equipment, and specialized doctors. Unfortunately, due to bad communication between doctors, clinics, and the state, the equipment the clinics/hospitals do have is usually of a very low quality or damaged. Even pharmacies are not well-stocked with common antibiotics. State pharmacies barely have any medicine, and private pharmacies stock only basic ones. In some cases, pharmacies and hospitals may not be able to provide you the medications or treatments that may be medically necessary. Thus, it is highly recommended that a tourist or expatriate in Serbia should have international medical insurance prior to your departure, as medical evacuation may obviously be necessary for treatment.
Pacific Prime can offer free, professional insurance advice as well as international, travel, and health insurance needs with policies that can cover services including, but not limited to, dental, maternity, transportation, inpatient services, and more for your trip to Serbia. Please contact us today for a free consultation on health insurance.