Healthcare in Czech Republic

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Ambulance in Prague - Healthcare in Czech Republic
The standard of healthcare in the Czech Republic is generally high – in fact, the country's healthcare scheme has been praised as one of the best in the EU. The affordability and standard of medical treatment has even seen the country emerge as a popular destination for medical tourism in Europe.
It is compulsory to have health insurance in the Czech Republic, whether through a public or private health insurance provider. Czech citizens, residents, and anyone working for a Czech employer are automatically insured under the country's public healthcare system and pay monthly contributions. Other long-term visitors will have to use a private insurance company and short-term travellers are expected to have appropriate travel insurance.

Hospitals in Czech Republic

There are good medical facilities in all major cities in the Czech Republic, with the best facilities found in Prague. This includes large hospitals as well as smaller clinics. Some hospitals have a foreigner section where English-speaking personnel provide services to resident expats.

Expats are free to choose their own doctors from a list of those approved by their insurance. In cases where a specialist is needed, it's not necessary to have a reference from a general practitioner to make an appointment. Dental treatment is also of a high quality and is included in national healthcare insurance schemes.

Many doctors are Western-trained and able to speak English, though this is not always the case. Some expats using the public sector have also complained of doctors being short-tempered or unsympathetic, but this is largely due to the high turnover of patients and short consultation times and shouldn't be taken personally. Doctors with access to facilities such as x-ray machines may be inclined to send patients for unnecessary tests to make up for the cost of the machine. This is worth considering before agreeing to medical tests, though of course it shouldn't be a deterrent if tests are truly needed.

Pharmacies in Czech Republic

Pharmacies are widely available in the Czech Republic with some open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expats should note that prescriptions are only valid for a set period of time; prescriptions from emergency services expire after one day, antibiotic and opiate prescriptions expire after three days, and all other prescriptions expire after a week.

Health insurance in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic provides free medical care to Czech citizens through compulsory contributions to an approved Czech health insurance company. The largest health insurance company is the state-owned General Health Insurance Company (Vseobecna Zdravotni Pojistovna). Czech citizens, registered foreign residents and employees of companies based in the country must make regular contributions to this fund. It is mandatory for employers to pay a portion of the monthly fee with the employee contributing the remainder of the fee. Under this scheme, expats are also usually required to pay a small stipend for treatment received.

The Czech Republic has reciprocal healthcare agreements with other countries. In particular, EU citizens have access to free medical care in the Czech Republic with their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Expats in the Czech Republic without an EHIC who do not have permanent residency and are not employed by a Czech company are not entitled to free medical care. However, it is still compulsory to have health insurance and expats staying in the country for over 90 days will be required to show proof that they are covered under a private healthcare scheme. In such a case, it is imperative to arrange private insurance in advance. Those staying in the country for less than 90 days will need to show proof of travel health insurance.

Health hazards in Czech Republic

There are no major health risks in the Czech Republic at present. Tap water is safe to drink, though expats should exercise common sense. Food-bourne diseases are not a major concern as long as meals are prepared in hygienic conditions.

Pre-travel vaccinations in Czech Republic

As a general rule of travel, expats should ensure all routine vaccinations are up to date. This includes measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio and chickenpox.

Though there is a low risk of contracting hepatitis A, getting the vaccine is nevertheless recommended. Hepatitis B is also uncommon and only expats planning on getting tattoos or piercings, having sex with a new partner or undergoing medical procedures in the country need consider this vaccine.

Expats travelling to remote areas where they might be bitten by bats or ticks should get appropriate vaccinations for rabies and tick-borne encephalitis. 

Emergency services in Czech Republic

Emergency services (Záchranná Služba) in the Czech Republic are generally good, as are ambulance response times. In the case of an emergency, dial 112 to be connected to the EU emergency line. This guarantees an English-speaking operator. Otherwise, Czech medical emergency services can be reached on 155.

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