Healthcare in Bulgaria

 

 

Bulgaria’s rapidly developing healthcare system is making it all the more a favourite among foreigners who seek to start a new life. Although significantly underfinanced in the in recent years, the country's entry into the European Union has significantly helped in improving the national healthcare system. 

The Bulgarian healthcare system is still heavily built on its bureaucratic structure that was designed during the Socialism years between 1945 and 1989. It is currently undergoing major reforms to meet not just the modern standards but also the requirements of the European Union. Since entering the EU in 2007, Bulgaria has shown promising improvements including the strengthening of the constitution of Bulgaria whereas Healthcare is an equal right of every citizen. However, there are still several pressing issues that must be dealt with such as pricey medication, under funded hospitals especially in rural areas and instability of the healthcare system itself. 

The Public Healthcare Scheme 

Healthcare in Bulgaria is universal and is heavily funded by the state through the National Health Insurance Fund. Resources for the National Health Insurance Fund are collected through mandatory contributions by Bulgarian citizens, eligible/employed expats and self-employed individuals. Since Bulgaria is also a member of the EU, expats from member states and Switzerland can also use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which will help simplify their procedure when receiving the same medical benefits they are entitled to in their home country. Expats from countries with an existing reciprocal healthcare agreement with Bulgaria enjoy the best of the current healthcare system. 

Employers are required and are responsible for enrolling their employees to the national health fund. Contributions are split between the company and the worker and are collected directly from the salary. Private contributions normally amount to BGN 15 or USD 8.45. Members of the National Health Insurance Fund receive a health card which they need to bring every time they go to a hospital or clinic. Members are entitled to free or subsidised medical services, emergency care anywhere in Bulgaria and have the flexibility to choose their dentist or doctor. 

Private Health Insurance for Expats 

As mentioned earlier, Bulgaria has reciprocal agreement with several countries which means that citizens of these nations receive the same benefits on the basis of foreign insurance. However, few countries have such an agreement with the Bulgarian government so most expats take out private health insurance. International health insurance varies significantly depending on age and coverage. Whichever policy is involved - basic, standard or comprehensive - always check the extent of cover and the policy exclusions, as well as premiums and excess charges. International health insurers do not require a medical examination except for those who have pre-existing health conditions. Many international policies also allow for repatriation or evacuation as well as non-emergency treatment in a preferred country. 

Expats who arrive in Bulgaria without health insurance coverage may also choose from the many private insurers in the country. Agents may come up with many proposals, but the most important thing is to choose the policy that is right for your situation. In Bulgaria, companies always impose a yearly limit on medical fees and may even set a ceiling for the coverage of certain treatments. Several private insurers also don't cover doctors' fees or medicines unless these are supplied by a hospital. You should also watch for high excess amounts. 

Visiting a Doctor 

Expats in Bulgaria can choose a GP (General Practitioner) of their choice who will refer them to a specialist when necessary. Although public insurance is available for all residents, a small non-refundable consultation fee will be charged by all doctors. Public insurance in Bulgaria entitles a resident to free treatment from a GP and medicines at reduced prices. After a visit, a patient is either given a receipt or prescription. Getting a receipt means the patient will be able to buy medication for free or at a discounted rate which a prescription means the full cost will have to be paid. 

One thing expats may have difficulty with when seeking medical help is the language barrier. Although there are English-speaking doctors in Bulgaria, most are likely to be found in central areas. An expat can look up these doctors in online listings or contact his embassy for information. 

Hospitals in Bulgaria 

Bulgaria's main cities and towns are the best places to settle as medical services are readily available. Despite the country's healthcare system being mostly work in progress, doctors, clinics and hospitals are abundant in these areas. Health services in rural regions, however, are less accessible. Bulgaria has an estimated total of 30 specialist hospitals which offer services such as care for patients with acute diseases, obstetrics as well as surgical and cosmetic operations. There are several types of medical facilities in this country and patients are often directed to one that specialises in their needs regardless of the hospital’s location. Some of the most prominent hospitals in Bulgaria are: 

"Nikola Y. Vaptsarov" 51Б, 1407 Sofia, Bulgaria

Tel:  +359 2 403 4000

Sofia 1463 2 Zdrave Str.

Tel: +359 2 9172 200

"Sveti Georgi Sofiyski" 1, 1431 Sofia, Bulgaria

Tel: +359 2 923 0646

"Dragovitsa" 9, 1505 Sofia, Bulgaria

Tel: +359 2 943 4398

Okolovrasten pat 127, 1700 Sofia, Bulgaria

Tel:  +359 700 13 127

 

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