Slovakia has a two-tier system of insurance, based on state health insurance but also with private health cover available. All residents are entitled to access public healthcare if they pay contributions into the system, including expats who are resident and working in the country.
Registering With The Public Health System In Slovakia
Over 98% of the Slovakian population is covered by the national scheme, with 65% of people signed up to the state health insurance system (Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa or VšZP). The rest are registered with either Dôvera or Union zdravotná poisťovňa, private health insurers working on behalf of the government (Union is run by the Dutch).
Currently, you will be eligible for state healthcare as an expat if you have been resident in Slovakia for over a year, and if you and your employer are making contributions into the national insurance system. In this case you will be entitled to all the benefits experienced by the local population and will be able to access the public healthcare system. The amount you pay will depend on your income: the full amount is 14%, and if you are working for an employer, then you will pay 4% and your employer will pay the remaining 10%. However, if you are self-employed, you will need to cover the full 14% yourself.
If you are an expat, you will need to register with the VšZP within 8 days of your arrival. If you are not from an EU member state, however, you will also need to bring with you a permit of stay issued by the Foreigners’ Police.
If you are registering yourself, for instance if you are self-employed, you will need to fill out an application form. You can find one for Dovera on their website, for example, or you can contact one of the other insurance companies directly. If you are employed and registering yourself, you will need a confirmation from your employer that you are working in the country. Otherwise, your employer can do the registration for you, but do check that they have actually signed you up.
You will be given a state health insurance card within five days of registration, and you must bring this with you to any medical appointments. If you leave your workplace, you must let the VšZP know within an eight-day period, and your cover will then be cancelled.
Registering With A Doctor In Slovakia
You do not have to sign up with a GP, but if you do not, you will only be entitled to emergency care at a hospital, so make sure that you register with your local surgery once you are settled in Slovakia. If you have an EHIC card (Európsky preukaz zdravotného poistenia in Slovakian) you can use this, but it is intended for emergencies rather than being a substitute for full health insurance coverage.
You will be able to find your local dental clinic via the telephone directory or online. Under the national health scheme, you are also allowed a free dental check up every year (two if you are pregnant). If you do not go, you will have to pay the full price the following year. Dental treatment itself is not covered, however, so you may also wish to take out a private dental plan or sign up with a private dental clinic.
Signing Up For Private Health Insurance In Slovakia
Given that the standard of Slovakian healthcare, while not poor, is not yet up to the standards of other Western nations, you may wish to take out private coverage or seek treatment in clinics in Austria or Germany. Vienna is only an hour from the Slovak border, for instance.
Talk to other expats to see if anyone has any word of mouth recommendations and do some homework on providers: most clinics will send you prices of procedures on request. You can also find clinics online and, again, they will invite you to email them with details of any treatment you require and will send you a quote.
However, some expats report that some private hospitals and clinics run on similar lines to institutions in the state sector and will not cover complex treatment or surgery – an additional argument for seeking healthcare out of the country. Paying out of pocket can be expensive: around €30 – 50 for a basic doctor’s appointment, for example.
The cost of your cover will depend on factors such as your age and any pre-existing conditions, and the kind of package you opt for. A more expensive insurance package will give you more a extensive range of treatment and facilities. However, most of the main international private insurance providers cover Slovakia.
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