Healthcare System Information for Expats Living in Russia

The state-funded healthcare services in Russia are free; however, they may not be adequate for expats who are used to top-class medical facilities in their native country. Russian public healthcare system may not be very enticing for most expats; however, in recent years, there has been a marked improvement in this sector. Ideally, you should opt for some international health insurance that provides evacuation services during an emergency.

The public healthcare system for local nationals in Russia is poorly managed and the lack of adequate funds has only made the situation worse. Because of the inadequacy of medical equipment and poorly paid health professionals, most Russian citizens are deprived of basic healthcare facilities. As per a survey by the Levada Center in 2016, only 2% of Russian citizens think highly about the country’s healthcare system. While Moscow can boast of a decent number of public healthcare facilities, numerous towns and villages across Russia hardly have any healthcare facilities at all. One can imagine the plight of people living in remote areas and the distance they have to travel to obtain medical care.

Important Note: Given the sanctions on Russia, it may not be possible for expats to be covered there by any of the global health or insurance.

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How the Russian Healthcare System Works for Expats

People who live and work in Russia are eligible for availing benefits of state health insurance. Funds for this insurance are contributed by employers, who are responsible for paying about 2 to 3 percent of the employees’ salaries as social security tax. A percentage of this tax payment goes for the national healthcare fund. As an expat or foreign national, you may have to obtain voluntary medical insurance (VHI) during your stay in Russia. Usually, your employer will make the necessary arrangements and purchase this coverage for you.

It’s important to note that the most discounted insurance plans may not be very useful for you if your job contract doesn’t offer you comprehensive healthcare insurance. Note that in 2016 the reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Russia was canceled in 2016. Most foreigners in Russia will be required to take out medical coverage to get their visas. If you are from the European Union, you should check if your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)  through your government will cover you in Russia. Repatriation and evac will not be covered by your EHIC.

Public Healthcare in Russia

Russia’s public healthcare system isn’t as innovative as it used to be. Lack of funds has further led to a drop in the standards that most expats expect from the system. Many public hospitals don’t have adequate supplies and equipment. Wait times are also pretty high in public hospitals within the country. Expats can find it difficult to speak with the hospital staff as all of them may not be able to speak English properly. Treatment is free for everyone, including the citizens and permanent residents; however, due to lack of right equipment, that often seems less than enough.

Private Healthcare in Russia

Traveling to Russia

Russia’s private healthcare system is much better placed than public healthcare. If you live especially in a larger city, you will be able to find many private facilities that have English-speaking staff and much better equipment. Private healthcare facilities also have a much higher standard and shorter waiting times, though availing such services can be very expensive. This is why expats are advised to buy a comprehensive international insurance plan or get the same through their employer. Such a plan can cover most of the costly procedures at the private hospitals located closest to them. Besides individual and group cover, expats can also procure international health insurance for their family members.

Necessary Insurance Paperwork for Expats

After you have finalized where you will work and stay in Russia, you have to move towards preparing the paperwork. You can get most of that readied by your employer, who will also get you registered with the state healthcare in Russia. Alternatively, you can visit a local insurance provider yourself, though you may want to take someone who can speak Russian with you – again, a global health plan is recommended for expatriates. You will be required to produce documents like your residence permit, employment documents, and passport for healthcare registration.

Expats can also get their children registered under their OMI plan so that they obtain medical insurance for Russia. You will have to visit the Russian Ministry of Health along with various documents including the birth certificate of your child, passports, and residence permit.

Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats in Russia

Russian citizens, as well as expats, can benefit from the country’s free healthcare system. This system is funded through a social tax that is collected through small deductions made to the salaries of both employers and employees. Expats with an international health insurance plan can obtain vastly superior coverage and services at private facilities in the country. Moreover, such plans don’t just cover expats for healthcare in Russia, but also when they need to move to some other country for better medical assistance. As an expat, you can look forward to international healthcare plans offered by leading companies like Allianz Care and Cigna Global. You should compare all the accessible plans before making the final choice.

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