Healthcare in Russia



In the past, soviet Russia made use of centralized, socialist health care whereby health practitioners (state employees) provided free healthcare to all citizens. However, the insufficient funding resulted in poor sanitation and unsuitable heating.

Since its independence in 1991, Russia has combined private financing and state financing in healthcare. Sadly, the imagined improvement has not come to fruition as most citizens do not have an informed choice about their health care provider options and, most importantly, still show a preference for public healthcare.

The life expectancy in Russia is 59 for males and 73 for females as of 2009. The most common causes of death are cardiovascular diseases and cancer, respectively.

Healthcare is usually obtainable within the city limits, making it difficult for citizens in rural regions to attain medical care when the need arises. Worse still, health care in the city is deemed unsatisfactory compared to Western hospitals. Patients are likely to encounter long queues, unavailability of their medicines and transfers to Finland for surgical procedures. Also, there are many doctors in hospitals that speak no English.

Expats who stay longer than 3 months are required to present an AIDS certificate before a work visa will be approved. No vaccinations are required, but for those who will go trekking in taiga forests from May to June, it is advisable to have tetanus and encephalitis vaccinations.

Private Health Insurance

Given the scenario above, it is highly recommended for any expat to research their options for private healthcare. Russian companies usually provide employees with health insurance. Still, you should carefully review the coverage of your insurance to avoid any surprises. This insurance should at least have Emergency Medical Assistance or outpatient assistance as most private clinics charge an upfront deposit of $2,000-$3,000. If this benefit is not available, you may want to verify if your travel insurance includes healthcare.

Healthcare payments are deducted from tax. Fortunately British nationals do not need separate health insurance as British insurance is accepted in Russia because of reciprocal health care arrangements.

It is vital to do your homework and ensure that your nearest private hospital can promptly respond to emergency cases, have their own ambulances, the means to cover clinic charges, emergency hospitalization, emergency medical evacuation from the Russian city of origin and costs in the receiving hospital in case of evacuation. Treatment delays are inevitable if all of the financial concerns are not addressed properly in advance.

It is also best to consult a long-time resident for advice about a potential healthcare provider.


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