Healthcare in Estonia

 

 

Since regaining its independence and joining the European Union in 2004, Estonia has shown remarkable economic growth that helped boost several sectors including healthcare. Though the quality of health services in most major cities is acceptable, there is still an insufficient supply of medical equipment and resources in some parts of the country. 

Estonia’s healthcare system has been undergoing various reforms since 1991. Some of the objectives of this reform included improvement of the accessibility and quality of general healthcare service, re-organization of the public funding system and the overextended hospital system, and a more efficient use of healthcare resources. The healthcare system of Estonia is regulated by the Ministry of Social Affairs. This department is in charge of implementing the strategies and regulations of the country’s health care scheme. Although Estonia is already part of the European Union, its healthcare system is still not at par with that of North American or Western standards. 

Healthcare for EU and Swiss Citizens 

Estonia is a member of the European Union which means that citizens coming from the EU are eligible for free medical services in this country. Expats from the EU and Switzerland can also use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to obtain free or subsidised medical services in Estonia. This card covers emergency, injury, chronic diseases, existing illnesses treatments as well as maternity care carried out in state-run hospitals. Keep in mind though that the EHIC card doesn’t cover medical tourism or the needs of those going to Estonia for the sole purpose of receiving medical care/treatments.

The Estonian Health Insurance Fund 

Expatriates coming from non-EU/EEA countries and Switzerland can either take out private health insurance or apply for the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF). The EHIF is responsible for paying treatments in hospital, doctor visits, and part of the cost of some medicine for those who are under the insurance scheme. EHIF also covers the cost of a medical treatment, apart from the fee incurred when seeking treatment from medical specialists and the in-patient fee in hospitals. In case of an emergency, everybody is entitled to a first aid treatment for free. 

This compulsory health insurance policy, which is paid for by the employer of an Estonian resident, accounts for a social tax of 33%(20% pension insurance, 13% health insurance) and covers approximately 94-95% of the country’s population. 

How to Register with a Doctor 

According to the Estonian law, all individuals who are covered by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund have a family practitioner. These include all Estonian nationals and foreign nationals who contribute to the social tax system. Expats who want to register for a GP in a public clinic or hospital needs first to register his local place of residence while those who opt to go to private medical facilities can register for a GP directly. 

The registration process involves submitting an application, either by mail, e-mail or in person, to the selected clinic. The application is normally reviewed within seven business days after which, you will be notified whether your application was accepted to the physician’s directory or not. Any doctor in Estonia has the right to decline the application especially if you don’t live in their service area or if their list is already full. For assistance, expats can call the Health Insurance Fund’s customer services at 16363 or the GP advisory line at 1200 (open 24 hours a day). 

Hospitals in Estonia 

Estonia has a total of 19 main hospitals that are funded by the EHIF or health insurance fund. There are also four central hospitals in the country that are offering both out and inpatient services in almost all fields of health. In terms of private care, Estonia has 20 private hospitals that have various levels of agreements with the state. Though the fees of going to a public hospitals is relatively free or subsidised, many still consider going to private medical facilities where there is shorter waiting times to see a GP or a specialist. 

Ravi street 18, 10138 Tallinn

Tel: +372 666 1900 

Sütiste 19 13419 Tallinn

Helpline: 617 1300 

Ristiku str. 1 Pärnu 80010

Tel: (+372) 447 3101 

Pärna tee 3, Jämejala village,  Viljandi

Tel: (+372) 435 2022

 

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