The cost of your healthcare in Slovak will depend on a number of factors, namely whether you as an expat:
• are signed up with the national insurance scheme and one of the country’s state-approved providers
• have private health insurance
• have a combination of national and top-up private insurance to cover procedures (such as dental and optical care) which do not fall under the national scheme
• do not have insurance at all and are intending to pay out-of-pocket for any treatment that you receive.Due to the issues faced by the public healthcare system in Slovakia (lack of public funding, lengthy weighting times, and antiquated equipment – much of which is a legacy from Communist times), many expats resident in the country choose to take out private health insurance.
The country is a medical tourist destination for some private medical care, including dental, eye care and cosmetic treatment, and standards in the private sector are considerably higher than those in the public sector.
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, although quality varies and many expats choose to bypass the public system and take out comprehensive private cover during their stay 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, 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 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 in the following year. Dental treatment itself is not covered under the national health scheme, so you may also wish to take out a private dental plan or sign up with a private dental clinic.
Some basic eye care is covered: you should be able to obtain a pair of glasses under the national health scheme, and also some basic surgery such as cataract removal.
You will need to pay for prescriptions (at a reduced rate if you are a pensioner), but it is quite cheap – about €0.17 for each prescription.
Slovakia is also estimated to have some of the cheapest costs of over the counter (OTC) medication in Europe.
Most basic healthcare, such as visits to your doctor and hospital treatment are covered under the state plan. This includes:
• preventative medical check-ups
• urgent health care (in case of a sudden change of health conditions which directly endangers life or any of your vital functions)
• medical performance leading to the detection of a disease and determining the diagnosis, curing of the disease, mitigation of its effects, saving of life etc.
• compulsory vaccination
• urgent transport of the person to a medical facility and between medical facilities
You may need to co-pay a small fee and your GP’s surgery should have a list of any fees that the doctor is allowed to charge. For example, there is a set fee of around €3 (CZK 90) for treatment in an A&E department.
You are allowed one free medical check-up every 2 years and if you are a blood donor, you will need to have a compulsory check-up every year.
In general, you will need a referral from your GP for most specialists, but there are some (psychiatrists, gynecologists, opthamologists) for whom this is unnecessary.
If you are taken to the public emergency room, this will cost around €1.99 but if you are subsequently hospitalized, you won’t need to pay. Co-payments for additional healthcare services are set in law for the following additional services:
• pharmaceuticals, medical devices, dietary food: co-payments for 60% of items
• prescription costs: €0.17 per prescription
• spas and other rehabilitation services: from €1.66
• 24/7 first aid medical service: €1.99
• transport health service: €0.07 per km
Fees in the private sector are obviously higher, commensurate with the quality of the facilities and treatment that you will encounter. The private sector also offers a higher number of English-speaking medical personnel.
Healthcare tourism is often based in Slovakia’s many natural spas, combining conventional medical treatment with wellness packages. The most popular of these is Piestany, Slovakia’s main spa, where around half of the 50,000 annual visitors are healthcare tourists. High quality, low cost clinics are also found in urban centres, such as Bratislave, Kosice and Banska Bystrica. Cosmetic procedures will vary depending on the provider but some quoted costs are as follows:
• breast enlargement: €3000 – 3500
• breast lift: €2200 – 2800
• liposuction: €2000 – 2500
• tummy tuck: €2200 – 2600
• rhinoplasty: €1500 – 2300
• ear otoplasty: €900 – 1100
• face lift: €3000
• eyelid surgery: €1700
• gastric bypass: €7800
• gastric banding: €5500
• gastric sleeve: €7400
The cost of any private health insurance will depend on your age and the presence of any pre-existing conditions, but the main international providers cover Slovakia and you should have little difficulty in finding a private policy that fits your needs.
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