The Russian healthcare system

An overview

The Russian healthcare system

Healthcare in Russia has a bad reputation, especially if comparing with the West. Although there is free healthcare available, citizens will often experience poor treatment. As a result, it is advisable for expats to make sure they have private medical insurance during their stay in Russia.

All Russian citizens are entitled to free healthcare with Obligatory Medical Insurance (OMI). This is funded by employers contributing around 2-3% of employees wages into a social tax, of which a small proportion is put into a healthcare fund. In practice, however, many take out their own private medical insurance, known as Voluntary Health Insurance (VHI). Generally speaking, health care in the major cities, like Moscow or St. Petersburg, is far better than elsewhere in the country.

This is because medical care in the country is very poor, so poor in fact that a Bloomberg Index in 2014 ranked Russia’s healthcare at the bottom of 54 other developed countries . For those that are unable to afford VHI, some have even resorted to paying under the counter bribes to get the necessary treatment. It is worth noting that despite the name, VHI is actually compulsory for anyone moving to Russia.

Expat healthcare in Russia

Since 2016, the standing healthcare agreement between Britain and Russia  has been terminated. This means that British citizens are no longer entitled to free emergency treatment if required in Russia. Therefore, for foreign citizens moving to Russia, obtaining the relevant private medical insurance is a must. Obtaining a visa or work permit is not possible without VHI.

Even if this was not the case, it would be still be advisable to take out VHI for the reasons mentioned above, primarily due to the low quality and not readily available care that is known across the country.

Further reading

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