Travel insurance covers visits to general practitioners and hospitals. In addition, any medication needed is covered to the same extent as it is for Czech citizens. Dental care however is not included. Insurance is valid for up to twelve months.
For short visits to the Czech Republic, short-term contracts can easily be arranged from your home country within only a couple of weeks. The costs of necessary and urgent treatments due to sudden illnesses or accidents in the Czech Republic are usually covered. However contracts vary greatly between different insurance companies and it is recommended that you take some time to find the best offer. Some insurance policies do not include medication.
It might happen that you are asked to pay in cash for any treatment you receive. If the treatment is included in your health insurance you should insist on not paying, because it can be hard to claim the money back from your insurer. If there is no other way than paying upfront, make sure that you receive a proper receipt explicitly stating what treatments you have received, and how much was charged for them.
Health insurance for EU nationals
The European health insurance card (EHIC) has simplified access to medical help for EU nationals. You are entitled to any kind of emergency treatment in case of illnesses or accidents in the Czech Republic and do not need to pay upfront. The insurance company of your home country covers the expenses. Non-emergency treatments and repatriation are not covered by the EHIC agreement.
If you are privately insured you will still have to pay for the treatments in the Czech Republic yourself. Back in your home country you can settle the cost with your health insurer. However, you should make sure you know how much your insurance policy is going to cover before you visit the Czech Republic.
The public healthcare system
For Czech citizens, foreigners with permanent residence in the Czech Republic and employees of companies located in the Czech Republic, participation in the public healthcare system through financial contributions is mandatory.
You can choose one of the nine statutory health insurance companies and you can change between them every twelve months. Contributions were 13.5% of gross income in 2002. The employer had to pay 9% of that, leaving 4.5% to the employee. If you have no income the state pays the premiums for you.
Self-employed people are participants of public health insurance as well. The premiums you have to pay are calculated according to your profit. Your premiums cannot exceed 35% of your profit. If you do not make any profit at all a basic fee of around 800 CZK per month is due. However, you can take out contractual insurance instead.
Statutory health insurance companies
After a relatively confusing decade that began with more than 30 insurance companies and many consolidations, only nine statutory health insurers are left in the Czech Republic. They all have contracts with doctors and healthcare centres. Sometimes a doctor does not have a contract with your insurance company, which means that you will have to go to a different one. However this does not occur very often anymore.
The biggest insurance company is Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna. A list of all insurance companies can be found at www.mzcr.cz.
Private health insurance
You can also take out private health insurance in the Czech Republic. However, the paperwork on application is a lot more complex than with public health insurance. Additionally some hospitals and doctors might not recognize your provider. In that case you would have to pay for any treatment upfront, which can be a financial burden, especially for major procedures such as surgeries.
Some private health insurance companies may require medical checks for their insurance. These checks may include blood tests as well as just simple questions about smoking and allergies.