Medical insurance when living abroad

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Medical insurance when living abroad

If like Rosaleen and David, who featured in a recent episode of A Place in the Sun: Home or Away? you're thinking of moving abroad permanently or even just buying a holiday home, one of your major concerns, especially in retirement, may well be the level of health care you are likely to receive and perhaps more importantly, how much it might cost. With agreements with Health Authorities in all EU countries, looking outside of there is slightly unchartered territory for many people.

The health cover is considered to be of a good standard in Croatia, with hospitals in all major towns and cities and clinics on the more outlying regions. Croatian citizens contribute to health insurance much in the same way that we do via National Insurance contributions. During the last 10 years however, the system has gone through some reform with citizens now paying more than previously. In 2000 however, a survey among citizens showed some 53.4% of people believed that their contributions now covered less than they did 10 years previously. This has resulted in many people seeking extra health cover by taking out private medical insurance to cover against any additional costs.

The good news however, is that low-income families and pensioners are exempt from paying contributions and UK nationals obtaining Croatian citizenship have a reciprocal agreement as to not pay contributions in retirement.

If you are just visiting on holiday, the E111 form, which can be obtained via the post office or online, allows UK nationals to receive health care free-of-charge. We do recommend however taking out additional travel and medical insurance to cover you in case of serious injury or also in the case of having to see a GP. GP's in Croatia work via a private system and therefore will often ask for payment prior to receiving treatment. Medical insurance will cover you this outlay on your return to the UK.

If you are thinking of spending time abroad in Croatia, or indeed any foreign country, we highly recommend researching health risks prior to departure.

1) Find out where your nearest hospital or doctor will be.
2) Make sure you don't need any vaccinations and it's always worth topping up you Tetanus jab if you haven't done so in a while.
3) Taking out medical cover is also strongly recommended and leave a photocopy with the policy number and phone number with family or friends in case of emergency or loss of your documents.

It's not nice to think in the worst case scenario but a few simple steps can help you be well looked after should anything happen. For further advice and assistance, the UK Government website has excellent links and information to help you at:

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A Place In The Sun