All you need to know about health in Croatia. First of all, how to register for insurance, how much does it cost, emergency and evacuation. Giving blood, contact details for all the main hospitals and specialist clinics. And where to find an English-speaking doctor or dentist near you.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation in Croatia, call 112. The operators speak English and response times are generally very good.
The Croatian Health Insurance Institute (Hrvatski zavod za zdravstveno osiguranje – HZZO) has created the National Contact Point (NCP). It is very similar to service which exists in other EU member states. Primarily, it provides information about the rights of insured persons to medical care. If you are a citizen of another EU country, you can contact it to find out precisely what are your rights to medical assistance in Croatia.
Ministry of Health Ksaver 200 A 10000 Zagreb phone: (01) 46 07 555 fax: (01) 46 77 076
Health in Croatia – who needs insurance?
The Croatian national health care system is public and regulated by the aforementioned HZZO. It is available to all Croatian citizens. However, foreigners with permanent residence in Croatia are also included. Healthcare in Croatia is generally significantly cheaper than in the USA and the UK. Additional private healthcare is also available – and often required, for various reasons.
There are many health centres all over the country, called “dom zdravlja”. You choose your primary care physician in one of them when you register for your health insurance card at HZZO. It’s, of course, advisable that you choose one that is closest to your apartment/house. Your general practitioner is going to be at the centre of your choosing, and then he/she refers you to other specialist hospitals or polyclinics if you need additional tests. This is free if you have state health insurance, and the prescriptions that your doctor prescribes are also either free, or you get a special price thanks to your state health insurance.
COVID-19 in Croatia
The biggest medical issue of our times is the global pandemic of COVID-19, which seems to have ground the World to a halt in March of last year. If you want to read all there is to know about the current COVID-19 situation in Croatia, including the active epidemiological measures, border-crossing, and the numbers of the positive people, read our Croatia Travel Update, which gets updated daily. If you need to get tested for COVID-19 in Croatia, we also have an article that can tell you where to go to get that done.
How to apply for health insurance
The process for registered for HZZO health insurance for foreigners is as follows:
Upon arrival, foreigners are required to register their temporary stay with the local police. The police will issue a registration number (evidencijski broj) once the application is approved.
The next step is to visit the local HZZO office. There, the previously mentioned registration number will be used as the basis of the healthcare application process. The following documents are required for the application:
Original and a copy of a valid travel document (including the page with the relevant visa),
A copy and the original of the confirmation of residence,
Original and a copy of the temporary stay permit (biometric stay card),
Confirmation on submission of the application for a temporary stay (containing registration number, evidencijski broj), and
Confirmation of OIB identity number.
If your country does not have a reciprocal arrangement with Croatia (you can see the list here), the monthly cost of the insurance is 420 kuna. Payments are made directly to HZZO, after which HZZO informs the Tax authorities and Ministry of Finance. Subsequently, monthly money orders (called uplatnica in Croatian) will be sent.
The health card can take up to three months to be issued, but the health coverage is immediate. The solution is to simply take the paperwork and your registration to the health facility you are visiting.
There is also an emergency helicopter service, which is particularly useful on Croatia’s islands. I used it for my daughter on Hvar many years ago, and the 12-minute transfer to Split hospital was very impressive indeed.
Bringing medicines into Croatia – what you need to know
The importation of medical drugs for the personal needs of passengers is possible in the quantities needed for treatment up to a month (provided that the medical drugs have been approved by the competent authorities (FDA) of the country of origin) with the possession of appropriate medical documentation (transcript of disease history, physician letter).
Persons crossing the border of Croatia may possess a medical drug that contains narcotics only on the basis of medical documentation (copy of a prescription for the medicine, transcript of the disease history or a certified medical certificate issued by an authorized physician) and in the amount necessary for the person to use for up to 5 days. If it is a person who is on substitution therapy for addiction or symptomatic therapy in the terminal stage of malignant disease, the amount of medication may be up to 15 days of personal use.
An exception to the above are persons residing or staying in the Republic of Croatia traveling to the Schengen area who may possess a medical drug containing narcotic substances in the amount necessary for personal use for up to 30 days on the basis of a certificate issued by the licensed physician (family doctor) or a physician specialized in mental health care, prevention and outpatient treatment of drug addiction).
Health in Croatia – a list of English-speaking doctors
English is widely spoken in Croatia, including in the health sector. While not all doctors speaking English, the majority do and you should not have any problem communicating.
Medical tourism in Croatia – fantastic quality, fantastic prices
One of the biggest surprises for me when researching Croatian tourism in more details was the potential of health tourism. I had no idea that the very best private clinics were on a par with the rest of the world.