If you are asylum seeker, you have the right to emergency medical help and necessary treatment of serious illnesses or mental health conditions, without paying.
If you are granted international protection, you and your family members have the right to health care services in the same scope as any other person in Croatia who is covered with basic compulsory health insurance.
You can use, without paying, services of:
- primary health care of general practitioner (family doctor), gynecologist, pediatrician and dentist,
- diagnostic examinations in health centers, laboratories and hospitals with referral from the general physician,
- specialist health services and hospital treatments that the general physician refers you to,
- emergency medical assistance and ambulance transport,
- medications prescribed to you by general physician.
For some services that are not covered by the basic health insurance, you have to cover the costs yourself.
How can I access healthcare?
If you have international protection and you are unemployed, your residence permit card (ID card) is sufficient to receive health care services. Your family members can also go to the doctors with their ID cards.
When you get employed you are automatically insured with the basic compulsory health insurance. You will be issued a health insurance card (white-red) by theCroatian Health Insurance Fund, which you have to show when you go to doctors. If you pay for supplementary health insurance, you will be issued additional health insurance card (orange)that you need to show when receiving health services.
Primary health care services are usually your first contact point in Croatian health care system. You will get primary health care from:
- general physician (family doctor) in your local health center (Croatian: “Dom zdravlja”),
- dentist (also at health center, or private practice that has a contract with public health insurance fund)
- pediatrician for children,
- gynecologist for women.
You do not need a referral to visit a primary care physician, however, you usually need to make an appointment (by phone or in person). If you get sick suddenly, you can go to your doctor’s office without making an appointment, in which case you will have to wait for your turn.
You should seek emergency medical services (Croatian: HITNA POMOĆ) only in cases when your life may be threatened or you can have severe health consequences.
Emergency medical service in Croatia is available 24 hours per day all week and during holidays.
For emergency medical services you should call 112 or 194.
When making such emergency call you will need to:
- introduce yourself,
- tell them what happened,
- who needs help,
- what is your location.
It is important to stay calm and carefully listen to instructions. After you make the call, keep the phone line clear in case emergency team would have to call you back.
Your primary health care physician, usually your general or family doctor, decides if you need some additional tests (for example in laboratories) or further examinations. He/she will give you a referral to specialist or for laboratory tests. This referral is called “UPUTNICA” in Croatian.
Specialist health care services are provided by making an appointment only. Usually your general physician makes the appointment and you should go to the specialist on a specified date and time. In case you wish to be examined by a physician of certain gender (male or female), you need to mention this when making such appointment.
For some examinations and specialist treatments, unfortunately, there are long waiting lists in Croatia. It is common to wait for several months for some examinations. Croatians have to wait that long as well. However, if your health condition requires that you are examined quickly, you will be given a priority.
If you need to be treated in the hospital you will get an appointment and your general physician will give you a referral.
Where can I get medicine?
You can get medicines only in pharmacies. For most medicines you need a prescription from your general physician, which can be online or written on the paper. For some medicines you do not need the prescription (for example for fever, pain, cough, etc.) and you can buy them in pharmacies. You do not have to pay for prescribed medicines if they are on the list of medicines covered by public health insurance fund, but for some medicines the cost is only partially covered and you will need to pay part of the cost.
Each city has at least one pharmacy that is open 24/7, in case of emergencies.
How can I find a doctor?
You can find a general physician or a family medicine specialist in community health center or individual medical practice. Usually, they are located in local community in larger cities or in your municipality, if you live in a smaller town. General physician is, in most cases, your first contact point in the health system.
If you have basic health insurance you are entitled to have the “chosen physician” with whom you are registered. If you do not have health insurance, you do not have the right to have a “chosen physician”. However, you can go to the nearest general physician for examinations and medical treatments, as if you are covered with basic health insurance.
Basic health insurance is compulsory for all citizens in Croatia and foreigners with temporary and permanent residence status.
All persons, citizens and foreigners, who are employed, are automatically insured with basic health insurance; that means a portion of their salary goes to Public Health Insurance Fund. Basic health insurance covers the most general and urgent healthcare services and examinations.
Supplementary health insurance is a voluntary insurance, which you can pay additionally, but only if you have basic health insurance. It costs cca 9€ per month. It covers the difference between the full price of healthcare service and the share that is covered by basic health insurance.
Even if you have supplementary health insurance there can be some costs regarding health care and health services that you will have to pay.
Further Information and Links
Health care system in Croatia http://www.hzzo.hr/en/croatian-health-care-system/
Health insurance in Croatia http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1104&langId=en&intPageId=5045
Croatian Health Insurance Fund http://www.hzzo.hr/en/
Croatian Institute of Public Health https://www.hzjz.hr/en/directorate/croatian-institute-of-public-health/
Croatian health system navigation guide in English https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/CARE-brosura-EN.pdf
Croatian health system navigation guide in Arabic https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CARE-Letak-arapski.pdf
Croatian health system navigation guide in Farsi https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CARE-Letak-farsi.pdf