Learn About the Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a Balkan nation rich in culture and nature. It is a great place for expats, digital nomads, and global citizens. In Bulgaria, the public and private healthcare financing system work hand-in-hand. The national health policy of Bulgaria, the overall organization and the functioning of the healthcare system is managed and regulated by the Ministry of Health. Under the Health Insurance Act of 1998, the health insurance system is mandatory.
The National Health Insurance Fund, the Voluntary Health Insurance Companies (VHICs) and the Social Health Insurance (SHI) system are third-party payers who contribute to the insurance system along with the public healthcare providers and insured individuals. Here’ what you need to know about the Bulgaria healthcare system and insurance options for expats.
Overview of Healthcare in Bulgaria
Healthcare providers in Bulgaria are self-governing organizations that are autonomous in nature. The health insurance system covers services like diagnosis, treatment, and recuperation as well as medication for individuals. Components like transplants, tuberculosis treatment, emergency care, inpatient mental healthcare, and other public health services also fall under the health insurance system.
Along with public healthcare, private sector hospitals also cater to most of the specialized outpatient care, primary medical care, pharmaceutical care, and dental care as well. The State is in charge of the national medical centers, university hospitals, and national specialized hospitals as well. They are also in charge of emergency medical care centers, centers for transfusion and psychiatric care as well.
On the other hand, it is always important to visit your doctor before traveling to Bulgaria. The CDC has information on vaccinations expats should get before departure.
How the Bulgarian Healthcare Works for Expats?
Bulgaria has recently witnessed a surge in its expat population. As an expat destination, Bulgaria has growing popularity due to its scenic countryside, proximity to the rest of Europe with a very cost of living. The country is famous for its well-trained medical professionals. However, hospitals continue to suffer due to a lack of infrastructure and funding.
Consequently, the private sector attracts medical practitioners with its lucrative opportunities. But be it, residents of the country or expats, contribution towards the national health insurance fund of the country is mandatory. While medical staff in the metropolitan areas is most likely to know English, expats living in the rural countryside of Bulgaria struggle asking for medical aid in their own languages.
Public Healthcare in Bulgaria
Public healthcare of Bulgaria has limitations such as poor infrastructure, inadequate equipment, under staffing and lack of funding. Expats may have to adjust to these circumstances. However, most of them tend to opt for more reliable, efficient and progressive private healthcare centers. EU residents with a valid European Health Insurance Card have access to free medical treatments in all public hospitals. It falls under the National Health Insurance Fund in Bulgaria. It is mandatory for expats to make contributions towards the public healthcare system of Bulgaria in order to use it.
Private Healthcare in Bulgaria
However, private healthcare in Bulgaria is adequate. Private healthcare services in Bulgaria are relatively cheaper as compared to those in the surrounding Western nations. Medical tourism involving dental and cosmetic procedures has made Bulgaria popular with expats. Communicating in English is also not a problem in the country since most of the doctors are bilingual. But private healthcare is mostly unaffordable. Therefore, we recommend expats to buy international health insurance for themselves before arriving in the country.
Emergency medical services in Bulgaria
The government of Bulgaria is taking several initiatives to modernize hospital services and emergency services. Response times to emergencies are also improving. There are dedicated emergency wards in state-run hospitals of Bulgaria. But expats living in the country do struggle to communicate on quite a few occasions. Helpline number 112 is the emergency number for ambulance services for any serious medical condition.
Medicines and Pharmacies
Qualified pharmacists run pharmacies in Bulgaria. If you are an expat with a prescription, we advise you to obtain medical certificates in your native country. However, regulations on medical prescriptions are more flexible in Bulgaria.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Bulgaria
Expats who are about to move to the country must buy an international health insurance policy that covers overseas medical evacuation and airlifting during a medical emergency. Among the best international insurance plans, those offered by Cigna Global and Allianz International are generally accepted by public healthcare institutions and private hospitals of Bulgaria.