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Healthcare in Slovakia

Slovakia became an independent state after its split from the Czech Republic in the early 1990s and has been a full member of the EU since 2004. Slovakia’s position at the heart of Eastern Europe means that it is an important business centre, and is becoming increasingly popular as a city break destination or for holidays with a difference. If you are planning a trip to Slovakia then one thing to consider is medical cover – is the basic EHIC insurance enough, or is it worth buying additional cover through your travel insurance?

EHIC in Slovakia

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), allows EU citizens to access the state healthcare systems in all EU countries. You have to do the paperwork online to apply for your cards before leaving home. Some health centres and hospitals in Slovakia see both private and state patients, so make sure that you are clear about being treated as a state patient. The Slovakian system means that all patients are expected to pay towards the costs of their treatment, but these fees are minimal. For example, the cost of seeing a GP or a doctor in an accident and emergency department is less than 2 euros. Small amounts are also charged for dispensing medicines or for overnight stays in hospital.

Standards of medical care in Slovakia are reasonably good, but the state system is prone to delays for routine treatment. Finding an English speaking doctor can be a challenge, especially outside the capital, Bratislava. If you are planning on being in Slovakia for an extended period for business or to study, you have to make special arrangements with the state medical insurance company.

Travel Insurance for Slovakia

One of the main benefits of taking out travel insurance which covers you for medical care in Slovakia is that you can speed up any treatment recommended by a doctor. Having the ability to pay for “top up” care could also mean you get a private room in hospital and access to English speaking staff. The medical tourism and cosmetic surgery industry is growing in size in Slovakia, and this means that there is significant investment in new hospitals and clinic facilities. Always check with your insurance company before admitting yourself into a private hospital, and ask for full invoices and receipts for costs you are expected to pay up front.
If you are planning on skiing in Slovakia, or climbing in the mountains, it is important to know that the Mountain Rescue service is not covered under EHIC. A complex rescue off the mountain and helicopter transfer could cost thousands of euros, so for this reason alone it is worth making sure your travel insurance is up to scratch. Remember too that travel insurance cover will also help meet the cost of flying you home for further treatment in the UK, or rearranging flights for people travelling with you. Check the small print on travel insurance policies carefully, especially if anyone covered has previous health difficulties.