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Andorra - Health Service
One of the reasons for Andorra’s success was the lower rate of mortality from cardiovascular diseases, which cause a third of all world-wide deaths.
There are 12 primary care centres located across the principality, meaning everyone should have convenient access to healthcare. The modern, well-equipped main hospital, Meritxell, is located at Escaldes-Engordany. Whilst you cannot expect all medical staff to speak fluent English, some will be able to and others will have a grasp of the English language basics.
If you need an ambulance during your stay in Andorra, phone 116.
The State Social Security System
The Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social (CASS) is the social security system managed by the Andorran government. It is paid for by contributions from workers and employers.
If you are eligible for CASS, you must belong to it. The contributions will be deducted from your salary accordingly. Your employer will deduct the required percentage from your salary, and pay this to the government. They will also pay a further amount from their business based on a percentage of your salary.
If you are a member of CASS and make contributions, both you and your family are covered.
The state cover will not provide the treatment entirely free though, unless you have a work-related accident. Instead, you will be asked to contribute to each visit.
If you receive outpatient services, such as a hospital visit or prescription medicines, you will be asked to pay 25 percent of the costs.
If you require residential care in hospital, you will only be asked to pay a 10 percent contribution, although this will be levied on a number of costs relating to accommodation, medication and staff services. These can mount up quickly depending on your condition and length of stay.
As a result of these contributions, many residents also have private insurance in addition to the state cover. If you choose not to take out the additional cover, make sure you have enough funds to cover the charges in the event you have an accident or become ill. Remember, these events occur without notice, so you cannot adjust your finances later.
The EHIC Is Not Valid In Andorra
If you hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can use it to receive state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, and sometimes for free, during a visit to a participating country. It will not be valid if you move to the participating country except in limited circumstances, such as studying at foreign university without working there.
The EHIC participating countries are those in the European Economic Area (EEA); that is, all EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
You can also use your EHIC in Switzerland. It is not part of the EU or EEA, but is part of the single market and therefore an EHIC participant.
Unfortunately, Andorra is not an EHIC participating country, so you will not be able to use your EHIC there. Although it has some customs arrangements with the EU – there are no tariffs or duties except for agricultural produce – its status outside the single market and EU means it does not participate in the EHIC scheme.
Private Health Insurance In Andorra
As the EHIC cannot be used in Andorra, visitors to the principality must ensure they have adequate health insurance (usually via a travel insurance policy) for the entire duration of their stay.
Andorra offers a lot of active sports which are fun to participate in, but which carry a measure of risk. Hurtling down a slope on skis, a snowboard or mountain bike; walking a steep and crumbling mountain path; riding a horse along a well-used track – all of these can lead to accidents. Ensure your insurance will definitely cover these activities before you take part. If you discover too late that one of the clauses omitted cover, you will have to pay all medical costs yourself. You can usually arrange additional insurance for sporting activities, which is a cost-effective way of avoiding unexpected charges.
If you are staying in Andorra for the medium to long term and intend to work, you are likely to obtain cover through CASS. However, with a contributory percentage charged for each service and prescribed medicine, private health insurance is still a worthwhile additional level of cover against the unexpected.
If you aren’t a member of CASS, then finding a good medical insurance policy will be essential. Unless you have substantial and easily accessible savings which you don’t mind using for open-ended treatment, an insurance policy is the only viable alternative.
Drink And Drugs In Andorra
Andorra’s social attitudes, and consequently application of the law, are conservative when it comes to consumption of alcohol and drugs.
A visit to any bar or restaurant will demonstrate that alcohol is a normal part of social life in Andorra. Wine, beer and spirits are all popular, and as they are duty-free, the prices are reasonable too. However, you are not allowed to drink on the street, and the police will react to unruly public drunkenness.
There are centres popular with the British package tour crowd, such as Pas de la Casa, where a busy nightlife is the norm and high spirits are better tolerated (within reason). However, this isn’t the norm for the other settlements in Andorra.
As for drugs, Andorra has a zero-tolerance policy. Do not bring drugs into or out of the country, or try to obtain them whilst you are there. Possession of any illegal substance will be dealt with severely.
Andorra continues a long tradition of producing tobacco in the local fields, and imported tobacco products are duty free. Andorra banned smoking in indoor spaces in 2012, many years after most European and Western countries had done so. As a result, smoking rates are extremely high for a wealthy, educated population.
Do take note of the strict personal allowances if you are taking tobacco products with you for trips into France and Spain. The police and customs officials are constantly on the lookout for tobacco smugglers hoping to make a profit from Andorra’s duty-free prices. Tobacco products and vehicles are confiscated as part of the fight against this illegal trade, so you do not want to find yourself accidentally on the customs radar.
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