Healthcare in Moscow



Any expatriate wants not only the best of life, but also the best of healthcare in his chosen destination.

Moscow offers healthcare that is at par with other premiere European cities. It does come with a price though, so it would take a matter of balancing your needs and options.

Public Healthcare

The Russian Federation had inherited a considerably comprehensive range of social services from the Soviet Union, and this includes of the right to accessible and affordable medical services.

Pre-1990's, when the healthcare system was under socialist rule, the structure of health services was highly centralized and hierarchal. The concentration then was more on the control of communicable diseases, as well as specialist and hospital care.

The emphasis was mainly on maintaining a healthy workforce. During that time, the Soviet Union was one of the first countries in the world to experience an almost one to one ratio of hospital beds to the population.

With about 23,500 hospitals with 3.6 million beds, it seemed that there was more than enough for everybody. This was actually not the case then, as serious overcrowding of hospitals ensued. Patients preferred to be hospitalized even for the simplest ailments since hospitals were better equipped.

Another downside of the earlier system was that the focus was too much on building medical facilities and less for the improvement of the quality of medical treatment as well as salaries for medical personnel.

The new Russian Federation brought in a new system of health care as well. Universal health care was introduced to the country, where private financing and provision worked hand in hand with state financing and provision.

Through compulsory medical insurance, budgeting has reverted from tax funding to a balance between the purchaser and the provider. With the active participation of the private sector enforced, the public had more options as far as health care insurance is concerned. Essentially, this move also ensured adequate health care funding.

The current system still faces challenges though, and there certainly is great room for improvement. Efforts by the Russian government to make the system work are well underway.


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Expat Health Reminders

Despite the open-market health care system used in Moscow, expatriates are still advised to have international health insurance to ensure ample medical coverage at all times.

One should also be cautious of food sold on Moscow streets as well as raw fruits and vegetables sold in the wet markets. The best precaution would be to thoroughly wash these implements before food preparation.

Be reminded as well that there is generally no water filtering system in the city, and though some apartment or housing facilities have filtering systems installed, it is best to avoid drinking straight from the tap. Always have a bottle of mineral water handy and stock up on these at home.

As far as vaccinations and prescriptions are concerned, make sure that before you leave your home country, your immunizations for communicable diseases like flu are complete. For your regular medications, bring prescriptions and a ready stock of medicines.

Watch out for potential allergens, because more often than not, Moscow's weather is cold. You can find medicines at any pharmacy in Moscow (often marked by a green cross) distinguished by the word аптека.

Healthcare in Moscow is still a work in progress. But do not lose heart, for the government in this Russian expat destination is relentlessly exerting effort to ensure that all bases are covered as far health care is concerned.



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