How to get health insurance coverage in the Czech Republic

A comprehensive guide to acquiring health insurance for foreigners to in the Czech Republic

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 17.09.2020 10:23 (updated on 14.10.2020)

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The state-subsidized Czech healthcare system consistently ranks among the most efficient and affordable in the world although anyone who has waited in a no-frills waiting room a long time to be seen by a doctor knows that it has its limitations.

According to recent Eurostat data the Czech Republic spends roughly 1,309 EUR per inhabitant per capita on healthcare, public expenditure on healthcare relative to the GDP is 7 percent. For comparison, higher-income countries such as Sweden and Denmark pay over 5,000 EUR per inhabitant.

Just as it has for many countries worldwide, the recent COVID-19 crisis has created additional burdens on the system and will likely continue to do so for some time to come. So what do incoming residents of the Czech Republic or those local expats who are looking to switch their insurance coverage, need to know about getting insured in the Czech lands?

Czech health care system an overview

The Czech health care system is a compulsory social health insurance system with universal coverage. Entitlement to coverage is based on permanent residency and each person must be covered through either a public health insurance fund, a foreign social insurance system, or private health insurance.

Funding comes from employees and employers who pay toward the healthcare system.

Healthcare in the Czech Republic is paid for on the basis of contributions from your salary (if you work for a Czech employer), and they are paid to a public health insurance company. If you are self-employed you can choose which health insurance company you prefer to pay for.

Contributions and coverage

The employee and employer pay a total of 13.5% of the gross income of the employee. The employee pays 4.5% and the employer 9% of it. The overall amount of contribution is paid to the fund of the employee by the employer.

People without a taxable income pay a monthly contribution of 1,971 CZK.

Czech health insurance typically covers preventative and diagnostic care, hospital care (that includes rehabilitation and care of chronic illness), dental care, medicines, and spa care.

The State pays the contributions for unemployed, pensioners, students, and women on maternity and family leave.

Who needs health insurance?

In the Czech Republic, all citizens residing in the country need insurance as do any foreigners with permanent residence in the Czech Republic and foreigners employed by companies based in the Czech Republic. Self-employed people working in the Czech Republic must also have health insurance.

Third-country nationals living in the Czech Republic three months or longer must have health insurance. Proof of comprehensive health insurance with a firm registered in the country is required for a long-term visa as well.

Foreign students who intend to stay in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days are required to purchase comprehensive health insurance coverage, and there are a number of companies that provide insurance specifically designed for international students.

Those who are in the Czech Republic short-term for less than 90 days can arrange acute and emergency health insurance for the duration of their stay.

If you have neither permanent residence nor employment, you must buy private insurance.

Public vs. commercial health insurance coverage

Public

Any permanent resident or official employee of a Czech company can join one of the public health insurance funds. Each insured person can change his/her health insurance company twice a year.

Approximately 60 percent of the population is covered by Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna, or VZP (The General Health Insurance Company).

The advantages of joining the public healthcare fund is, of course, affordability. However, this is the case only when it comes to essential treatment is required.

You should also be aware that having public healthcare a provider does not cover you if you visit private clinics or hospitals – which many expats opt to do.

Private

Common issues in public healthcare systems include long wait times for patients, overworked doctors, and a lack of English-speaking medical professionals. Foreigners are often surprised by the brusk bedside manner of Czech doctors.

As is the case with many countries, the Czech Republic has responded to these flaws in the system by offering a more expensive private care but, as mentioned above, these clinics may not accept public health insurance but are likely to accept private coverage.

When purchasing commercial health insurance, which is recognized by the Czech police, it must meet legal requirements for the stay of foreign nationals in the Czech Republic.

Health insurance for the self-employed

If you are working on a freelance basis and have permanent residence then you need to arrange contractual insurance individually with a public health insurance provider. Insurance contributions are then paid on an annual basis at tax time via bank transfer.

Premiums are paid upfront and the contract will apply for a certain period. You will need to undergo a medical examination and fill out a simple questionnaire. The policy can be extended if you are renewing your residence permit.

Self-employed persons pay 13.5 % of 50% of their profit. The minimum contribution is 2,352 CZK per month.

Choosing the best coverage for you

Remember that public GPs have a contract with one of the health insurance companies, and when you sign up for a local doctor you may find that he or she does not have a contract with the same company.

That means the most important factor in your decision should be whether or not a doctor will accept your insurance and confirming which insurance companies the doctor has an agreement with.

Once you are registered in the system, either as an employee or on a self-employed basis, you will be issued a card by your insurance company.

Doctor visits, including lab work, should be free and prescriptions are inexpensive.

Do you need to buy health insurance in the Czech Republic? You can purchase insurance directly through Expats.cz via our partner Maxima; MaxMedical Health Insurance of Foreign Nationals meets all legal conditions for required insurance for foreigners. Buy insurance here.