Health care in Croatia
Access of foreigners to healthcare services in Croatia depends on their residence status and whether they have health insurance or not.
What healthcare services can I use if I am asylum seeker?
If you are asylum seeker, you will be provided with:
- emergency medical assistance and necessary treatment of illnesses and serious mental disorders,
- emergency transportation to medical facilities, if necessary,
- emergency dental assistance.
If you need medication, you will receive the medicines that are on the official list of drugs which are prescribed for the treatment of your condition.
If you belong to a vulnerable group (link to Information for different groups) you may receive additional health care services according to your needs and special circumstances.
Emergency and necessary medical assistance and services to asylum seekers are offered free of charge in public healthcare system.
In Croatia, several non-profit organizations provide healthcare services to asylum seekers, complementary to the health care secured by the public healthcare system. Organization called “Doctors of the World” (Médecins du Monde – MdM https://www.facebook.com/MdMHrvatska/) provides health care services to asylum seekers in reception centres in Croatia. MdM also provides medicines.
If you get employed as asylum seeker (see the conditions to get work permit in Employment link), you are automatically insured on the basic compulsory health insurance. Croatian Health Insurance Fund issues you a health insurance card (http://www.hzzo-net.hr/dload/obvezno_osig/Iskznc_crv.pdf) and so called MBO number (identification number of the insured person). This means that you have access to health care services in public health system same as everyone in Croatia with basic compulsory health insurance.
What healthcare services can I use if I am granted international protection?
If you are person granted international protection, you 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.
But you will not have health insurance, which means that you will not get health insurance card to show when you need to go to the doctor. Instead, you need to show your residence card (ID card) and that is sufficient to receive health care services.
You can use, without paying, services of:
- primary health care of general practitioner (family doctor), gynaecologist, paediatrician and dentist,
- diagnostic examinations in health centres, laboratories and hospitals with referral from the primary health care practitioner,
- specialist health services and hospital treatments that the primary health care practitioner refers you to,
- emergency medical assistance and ambulance transport,
- medications prescribed to you by primary health care practitioner.
If you get employed, you are automatically insured on the basic compulsory health insurance. This means that both you and your employer must pay monthly contribution for the health insurance fund.
Croatian Health Insurance Fund issues you a health insurance card (http://www.hzzo-net.hr/dload/obvezno_osig/Iskznc_crv.pdf) and so called MBO number (identification number of the insured person). You show your health insurance card (or give your MBO number, if the card is not issued yet) to the doctors to have access to health care services.
Your health insurance stops when you stop working and don’t pay health insurance contribution any longer. However, as long as you have international protection you will have the right on health care services as if you have basic health insurance.
What health care services can my family members use?
If you are granted international protection, your family members with legal residence in Croatia, have the right to health care services in the same scope as any person with basic health insurance in Croatia.
Your family members will not have health insurance, except if they get employment. This means they will not have health insurance card but will show residence card (ID card) when they go to the doctors.
Types of healthcare services in Croatia
Health care system in Croatia consists of primary health care, specialist health care and emergency health care.
Where can I go if I need medical help?
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 centre (“Dom zdravlja”),
- paediatrician for children,
- gynaecologist 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), except if you get sick suddenly.
To see a primary health care physician, you will need to bring with you your residence card (ID card) or, if you have health insurance because you are employed, your health insurance card.
What if I need to see the specialist or go to the hospital?
Your primary health care physician, usually your general or family doctor, assesses do 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” on Croatian (image).
Specialist health care services are provided on appointment only. Usually your general physician makes appointment and you should go to the specialist on 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.
In case of medical emergency, you will be admitted to the hospital immediately and without a referral.
What should I do in case of an emergency?
In case you need to see a general physician outside their working hours (on weekends, during holidays or at night), check possible on-call duty medical service in your community healthcare centre.
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.
What dental services can I use?
Primary care dentists are working in community health centres (Croatian: “Dom Zdravlja”) or in private practice with a contract with public health insurance fund. As a general rule you will not pay only for dental treatments that are necessary from a medical point of view.
Special dental treatments have to be paid fully or to some extent by the patient him/herself quite often. This concerns dental implants in particular which are unfortunately quite expensive. Croatian citizens have to pay such dental services as well.
In case you need a dentist outside their working hours due to an emergency you will need to contact emergency dental service which is provided only by some healthcare facilities.
Where to get the medicines if I need them?
You can obtain medicines only in pharmacies.
There are some medicines that you do not need the prescription for (for example for fever, headache or other pain, cough and similar symptoms). These medicines you can buy yourself in the pharmacy.
For most medicines you need prescription from the general physician. If you have health insurance, your general physician will order your medicines online, so you will not necessarily get the prescription as a sheet of paper.
To get the medicine in the pharmacy you will need to show the prescription and your residence permit if you are granted international protection or your health insurance card if you have it (if you are employed).
You do not have to pay for prescribed medicines if they are on the list of medicines covered by public health insurance fund. Your physician will prescribe you that kind if it is possible.
Costs of some medicines are only partially covered so you will need to pay some of the costs. This is the same as for Croatian citizens with basic health insurance.
If you urgently need a medicine outside the working hours of pharmacies, you will need to go to the pharmacy that is on duty every day 00-24 hrs. Each city has several on-duty pharmacies.
What healthcare services are there for children?
In principle all children until 18 years, including asylum seekers, children granted international protection and temporary residence, have the right on health care in Croatia in the same scope as children who are Croatian citizens with basic compulsory health insurance.
If your child is infant or preschool (up to 6 years of age) you will take him/her to paediatrician (specialist for children). You do not need a referral to visit a paediatrician; however, you will need to make an appointment in advance by phone or in person.
School age children will go to the general or family physician, same as adults. Usually whole family goes to the same family doctor.
If your child goes to school, he/she may be periodically examined by school medicine physicians. School medicine physicians are carrying preventive medical check-ups in school children and university students, vaccination and health education.
What vaccinations for children are mandatory in Croatia?
In Croatia there is a mandatory immunization (vaccination) program for children. That means that all children, including children who are foreigners, have to be vaccinated against several infectious diseases. Vaccinations that are mandatory are given to all children free of charge.
Croatian Institute for Public Health publishes children vaccination calendar each year (https://www.hzjz.hr/sluzba-epidemiologija-zarazne-bolesti/kalendar-cijepljenja-u-hrvatskoj-2018/)
If your child received some vaccination in your country of origin or in other country, the doctors will adapt the vaccination program in Croatia with the vaccinations already received. That is why it is of great importance if you can keep your children vaccination record.
Why is vaccination important?
Vaccination safeguards your child as well as other children from infectious diseases. Vaccination is the most effective mechanism to prevent spreading infectious diseases in population.
Apart from that, in Croatia you can’t enrol the child to kindergarten or school without mandatory vaccination.
You can get all information and help regarding vaccination from your family doctor or paediatrician or from specialists in branches of the Croatian Institute for Public Health (https://www.hzjz.hr/mreza-zavoda/)
Is there a special health care service for women?
Gynaecologists in community health centres or in private practices who have contract with public health insurance fund will provide you primary health service regarding your reproductive (women) health. You do not need a referral to see gynaecologist in primary health care, but you need to make appointment in advance. You can use primary gynaecological health care services without paying.
All women who are pregnant or just gave birth to a child, have the right on same maternal health care services as Croatian nationals. This include regular health exams, medications if needed and counselling during pregnancy, hospital care and assistance during and after child birth.
Are there health care services particularly for traumatized persons and persons with torture experience?
Health care services to torture survivors and persons experiencing potentially traumatic events, usually includes psychological counselling and psychotherapy (find more about trauma in Chapter If you feel lonely in a new country link). These services you will usually receive from non-profit organizations who help and support refugees.
Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma (http://rctzg.hr/-/en/) provides psychological counselling and psychotherapy particularly for torture survivors and persons experiencing potentially traumatic events.
You can receive counselling and psychotherapy also at other organizations: Society for psychological help (http://dpp.hr/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Azilanti-ENG-06.pdf), Jesuit refugee service (http://www.jrs.hr/kontakt/), Croatian Red Cross (https://www.hck.hr/).
If you are torture survivor or person with experience of potentially traumatic events and you need medical assistance and services, non-profit organizations will help you to find doctor, according to your needs and your health care rights.
How is health insurance organized in Croatia?
Health insurance system in Croatia consist of basic and supplementary health insurance.
Basic health insurance is compulsory for all citizens with permanent residence in Croatia and foreign nationals with permanent residence status.
If you are asylum seeker or person granted international protection you can have basic health insurance only if you are employed and both you and your employment pay monthly contribution for health insurance (it is deducted from each gross salary). The same is with family members of person granted international protection.
Basic health insurance covers the most general and urgent healthcare services and examinations.
Supplementary health insurance is a voluntary insurance, which persons who have basic compulsory health insurance can pay additionally.
If you have basic health insurance and decide to pay supplementary health insurance you can choose from several health insurance companies, both public and private. Usual monthly price of supplementary health insurance is 70 kuna (cca 9 EUR).
Supplementary health insurance covers the difference between the full price of healthcare service and the share that is covered by basic health insurance. It covers all types of additional payments regarding the basic health insurance in all healthcare institutions including: primary health care, specialist examinations, diagnostics, laboratory tests, physical therapy, dental medicine services, hospital treatment and getting prescription medication.
If you are asylum seeker or person granted international protection you can register for supplementary health insurance only if you have compulsory basic health insurance – meaning if you are employed.
Even if you have supplementary health insurance there can be some costs regarding health care and health services that you will have to pay. This is the same for Croatian citizens as well.
Further information & 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 on English https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/CARE-brosura-EN.pdf
- Croatian health system navigation guide on Arabic https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CARE-Letak-arapski.pdf
- Croatian health system navigation guide on Farsi https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CARE-Letak-farsi.pdf
How can I find a doctor?
You can find general physician or family medicine specialist in community health centre or individual medical practice. Usually, they are located in local community in larger cities or in your municipality, if you live in 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” whit 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.
What health services can I receive if I have a disability?
If you have a disability you have the right on health services that are appropriate to your condition.
If your disability requires orthopaedic or other medical devices or aids (for example wheelchair, crutch, orthopaedic shoe, hearing device and similar) the doctor (usually specialist to whom your general physician will refer you to) will give you a prescription. You can receive the type of device that is on the list of medical aid devices approved by Croatian Health Insurance Fund.
Where can I get mental health care services?
Mental health care is usually provided by psychologists and psychiatrists. You can get mental health care services in public health care system if you are referred by your doctor and then you do not have to pay for it.
If you are asylum seekers or person granted international protection you can get free psychological help in organizations dedicated to supporting refugees. See more information and links in chapter If you feel lost in a new country (link).
Do I have the right on sick leave?
Yes, you have the right on payed sick leave, if you are employed with employment contract. You have to see your doctor (general physician) as soon as you can after you get sick, to open a sick leave. Also, you need to notify your employer immediately that you are not able to work due to sickness.
What if I get injured at work?
If you work legally (with employment contract) you are insured in cases of injuries at work. That insurance is deducted from your gross salary (link to Employment). This means that the costs of your treatment and rehabilitation are covered with insurance and you do not have to pay for it. Also, you are entitled to paid sick leave. This means you will receive minimum 70% of your salary while you are unable to work.
How can I obtain birth control prescription?
You can buy condoms in pharmacies and most of the drugstores without prescription.
For birth control pills and other contraceptives, you need to see the gynaecologist. He/she will give you a prescription. Birth control pills are only available in pharmacies, and you will need to pay for some of them.