Healthcare in Latvia

 

 

Latvia is indeed one of the most stunning destinations in Northern-Europe that is blessed with a unique heritage and wonderful environment. However, expats bound to this Russian-influenced nation should see pass the natural beauty and pay attention to one vital aspect that concerns their welfare: healthcare.

The 2016 OECD Reviews of Health Systems indicated that Latvia has shown remarkable improvement by consolidating its hospital sector and strengthening the role of primary care. GPs across the country were also instructed to follow up on their patients that received emergency medical assistance but were not admitted to the hospital. But sadly the reforms and efforts of the Latvian government in partnership with the Ministry of Health are still in vain, and this country continues to struggle to be on par with its European neighbour nations in terms of healthcare standards.

Public Healthcare Scheme

Latvia’s public healthcare benefits are available to the employed and self-employed individuals, as well as unemployed persons with disabilities. These benefits include coverage for old age, disability, sickness, maternity and unemployment. The sickness and maternity are availed of through the social security system. All citizens residing in Latvia and expats with residence permits are extended with medical benefits. The insured contributes 1% - 2.28% of earnings while the Latvian government finances all deficits through the annual state budget.

Some citizens, however, are exempted from paying contributions including pregnant women, war veterans, and diabetes and tuberculosis patients. Though there is public healthcare coverage in Latvia, some expats still opt to take out private health insurance to supplement their healthcare and medical needs even if they are out of the country.

Workers’ Benefits

Workers’ medical benefits are provided by public and private hospitals accredited by the National Health Service. The coverage includes outpatient care, medicine, hospitalisation, maternity care, and dental care and cochlear implants for children. The insured may also reimburse additional expenses for medical treatment, nursing care, prostheses, travel costs and occupational rehabilitation.

All employed individuals may also avail of Work Injury benefits, financed by the employer and the government. This scheme covers work-related accidents occurred or occupational diseases diagnosed after 1997. Aside from healthcare benefits, expats with residence permits may also avail of family allowances under the universal system. This scheme is 100% funded through taxation.

Visiting a Doctor

Doctors in Latvia are referred to as ‘doctorates’, and nearly three-quarters of them are women. GPs in Latvia are allowed to prescribe drugs and are capable of treating serious illnesses, providing preventative healthcare and health education. They are also the ones you have to ask for a referral in case you want to go to a hospital or see a specialist. Specialists in Latvia are also called consultants or senior doctors who have completed a higher level of training than the GPs. Those who want to avail the free or subsidised public healthcare services should first ensure that the doctor they’ve chosen is part of the national insurance scheme. Latvian citizens and resident expats are allowed to choose their General Practitioner and receive free consultation but only up to twice a year. However, Latvia is currently experiencing a shortage of medical professionals since many GPs, specialists and nurses went to work abroad for better pay.

Hospitals in Latvia

Hospital care in Latvia is mainly provided by general and district hospitals. District hospitals in this country offer paediatric and adult care, treatment for infectious diseases, obstetrics and surgery. Each region in Latvia also has one tuberculosis, rehabilitation and mental health centre. Currently there are nine district hospitals situated in Riga, the capital.

The Latvian Ministry of Health is tasked with policy making to ensure accessible healthcare for all but currently, quality medical services are far from the reach of the people in this country. Many hospitals in Latvia, especially those in the rural areas, only use mediocre medical equipment and are severely understaffed. Expats and locals who want to experience much better services often opt to go to private hospitals in major cities such as Riga or in some cases, even travel abroad to receive a high standard of treatment. Some of the hospitals in Latvia are listed below:

Hippocrates Street 2, Riga, LV-1038

Tel: (+371) 67042194

Civil Street 13, Riga, LV-1002

Tel: (+371) 67069601

Peace Street 45, Riga, LV 1013

Tel: (+371) 67011225

23 Shelters Street, Riga, Riga, Latvia

Tel: (+371) 67501240

 

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