Russia was ranked 131st of 176 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, with many medical professionals taking advantage of patients by charging unofficial fees for preferential treatment or prescribing medication.
Costs and expat access to medical care
Sergei Ivanov, Kremlin chief-of-staff, confirmed that public healthcare is one of the most corrupt spheres, which means that there can often be expensive, unofficial costs involved with paying upfront for non-emergency treatment. Russian doctors working for the state often over-investigate medical complications at the financial expense of patients.
Patients are frequently internationally evacuated in the case of emergency, so it is important to take out a comprehensive health care with emergency evacuation cover, particularly if you are planning to live outside of a major city where treatment standards are varied and accessibility restricted.
Britain and Russia have a state healthcare agreement that is similar to the European Health Insurance Card. British people are entitled to free, limited, emergency treatment when visiting or living in Russia. However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises that expats ‘take out comprehensive… medical insurance before (they) travel’ as ‘state medical facilities in the Russian Federation are generally poor.’ Foreign citizens and immigrant workers from other countries are required to take out private medical insurance to get a visa or work permit.
Limitations of Russian public healthcare
Mental health treatment is not covered by the state system and can be expensive. It can be beneficial to take out a health insurance plan that provides psychological treatment as many expats in Russia suffer from depression and seasonal affective disorder, particularly in the harsh winter months.
The language barrier is often an issue for expats seeking treatment in Russia. Choosing a trustworthy, comprehensive expat health insurance provider such as Cigna will enable you to communicate any health concerns in English! Their flexible plans cover some pre-existing conditions.
Preparing to relocate
Ensure your vaccinations are up to date before moving to Russia. Poliomyelitis, Lyme disease and Encephalitis from tick bites, leishmaniasis, rabies, dysentery, Tuberculosis and meningitis are common so take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.