Friday, September 15, 2017

Czech Healthcare Basics

Going to the doctor is never a fun thing to do.  It can be even less fun when it's in a different country, and in a different language, than you're used to.  Here are a few basics when it comes to seeing a doctor in Czechland.

First of all, everyone is required to have health insurance.  The largest provider of public health insurance is VZP.

Everyone is also required to have a primary care doctor or GP and you can choose whatever doctor you want as long as the doctor is taking on new patients.  Most doctors accept VZP so as long as your doctor takes VZP then your appointment and treatment are normally free.

There used to be a 30 Kč co-payment but this was done away with several years ago.

I believe that the only charge is a 90 Kč ($4.20) fee for after-hours urgent care at hospitals or clinics.

If you need a specialist then that's ok.  You are not required to have a referral from your GP.  Some specialists don't take appointments as they see patients on a first-come first-serve system based on urgency.

There is far less paperwork here than there is in the USA.  Here, you just show your health insurance card and that's it.  No co-payments.  The insurance companies pay the treatment providers directly so there's no need for claim forms or reimbursement services.

Arriving to a closed door
One thing that took some getting used to is going to the doctor and finding a closed door instead of a reception or nurse's station.  Don't knock on the closed door!  They hate that.  When the door is closed it means that the doctor is with a patient.  You just need to wait outside until a nurse comes out and asks who's recently arrived.  You will give the nurse your referral slip and wait until you are called in to the see the doctor.

Overall, Czech healthcare is really good.  According to the 2016 Euro health consumer index, Czechland was ranked #13 (out of 35 European countries).  It is the best in "Eastern Europe", ranked after Sweden and two spots above the UK.  This is one of the world's fastest-growing destinations for medical tourism.

Czechs trust their doctors and usually don't ask too many questions.  It's not common for people here to ask for second or third opinions.  In general, doctors don't ask patients if they have any questions because, again, patients trust their doctors. 

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