Health care in Slovenia
How is the health care system in Slovenia organized?
There are two types of health insurance:
Compulsory health care insurance is mandatory. It covers general and urgent health care services and examinations.
Supplementary health insurance is a voluntary insurance, which you pay additionally. You can only apply for supplementary health insurance if you have compulsory health insurance.
It is strongly recommended to get supplementary health insurance, as it covers the difference between the full price of healthcare service and the part that is covered by compulsory health insurance.
It covers all types of additional payments in all healthcare institutions including primary health care, specialist examinations, diagnostics, laboratory tests, physical therapy, dental services, hospital treatment and prescribed medication. If you do not have supplementary insurance, you have to pay for all these costs by yourself, which can be very expensive.
You can choose among a few health insurance companies. The monthly cost of supplementary health insurance is usually around 30 EUR.
What health care services can I use?
Access to healthcare services for foreigners in Slovenia depends on their residence status and whether they have health insurance or not.
If you are asylum seeker, you will be provided with:
– emergency medical assistance and necessary treatment of illness and serious mental disorders,
– emergency transportation to medical facilities, if necessary,
– emergency dental assistance.
Emergency and basic urgent medical assistance and services to asylum seekers are offered free of charge in the public healthcare system. A special commission in the asylum centre can approve additional non-emergency, additional health care procedures.
There is a nurse present daily in the main asylum centre in Ljubljana-Vič that can make an appointment a doctor. If you need medication, you will receive a prescription (recept) and you will get your medicine (zdravila) in a pharmacy (lekarna).
You should not pay for the medicine. If the pharmacist wants to charge you for the medication, they are probably not informed about your rights. In this case, ask the staff in the asylum centre to help you.
If you belong to a vulnerable group, you may receive additional health care services according to your needs and special circumstances.
In addition, children and women regarding their reproductive health (pregnancy, post-natal health care, contraception etc.) have the same rights as Slovene nationals. They do not have health insurance but they do have access to health services. The asylum seeker ID suffices to get access.
If you find employment as an asylum seeker (read more about employment here), you automatically get compulsory health insurance. Both – you and your employer – pay monthly contributions for health insurance (deducted from the gross salary).
Slovene Health Insurance Institute issues you a health insurance card (http://www.zzzs.si/zzzs/internet/zzzseng.nsf/o/1A4ACD74ABDDAEC4C1256EC8002A79DD ) and health insurance number (identification number of the insured person). This means that you have access to health care services within the public health system, same as everyone in Slovenia with compulsory health insurance.
More information about health care rights of asylum seekers in Slovenia: https://www.filantropija.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/medical-treatment.pdf.
Persons with international protection
If you have been granted international protection, you and your family get compulsory health insurance based on your international protection status and you have the right to health care services in the same scope as any other person in Slovenia who is covered with compulsory health insurance.
This means you will get an insurance card that you need to present when you go to the doctor. It also means that you have the right to choose your personal doctor; everybody needs to have a chosen general physician, who gives him or her access to other health care services. If you have children, they have to be registered with a paediatrician.
You can use, free of charge, the services of:
- primary health care of general practitioner (family doctor), gynaecologist, paediatrician and dentist,
- diagnostic examinations in health centres, laboratories and hospitals, if you are referred by the primary health care practitioner,
- specialist health services and hospital treatments to which the primary health care practitioner refers you,
- emergency medical assistance and ambulance transport,
- medication prescribed to you by your primary health care practitioner or a specialist you were referred to.
If you need medication, you will receive a prescription (recept) and will be able to get your medicine (zdravila) in a pharmacy (lekarna).
If you belong to a vulnerable group (see chapter Information for different groups), you may receive additional health care services according to your needs and special circumstances.
If you are unemployed and you receive financial social assistance (for more information, see chapter Welfare benefits and social security), you automatically obtain compulsory insurance. If meet certain additional criteria (e.g. you are registered with the Employment Service of Slovenia), you can apply for the supplementary health insurance for you and your family members at the Centre for Social Work.
If you find employment, you automatically obtain compulsory insurance on the basis of your employment and your employer has to register you with the proper authority. This means that both you and your employer must pay monthly contributions for the health insurance fund from your salary. For more information, see chapter Employment.
In any case, you will need supplementary health insurance so the full medical services are available to you free of charge.
Without the supplementary health insurance, only approximately 55% of the health care services will be covered. You will have to pay the rest yourself.
What health care services can my family members use?
If you have been granted international protection, your family members with legal residence in Slovenia have the same rights as Slovene nationals. They have the right to health care services in the same scope as any person with compulsory health insurance in Slovenia and they can apply for supplementary health insurance as described above.
Which are the types of healthcare services in Slovenia (relevant for insured persons)?
Health care system in Slovenia consists of three parts:
- primary health care (general practitioners and pharmacies)
- secondary health care (hospitals and specialist examinations)
- tertiary health care (specialist clinics)
Everyone has the right to emergency health assistance.
Where can I go if I need medical help?
Primary health care
Primary health care services are usually your first contact point in the Slovene health care system. You will get primary health care from:
- general physician/family doctor (splošni zdravnik) in your local health care centre (zdravstveni dom),
- paediatrician (pediater) for children,
- gynaecologist (ginekolog) for women,
- dentist (zobozdravnik) for problems with your teeth.
You do not need a referral to visit a primary care physician. However, you need to make an appointment (by phone or in person), except if you get sick suddenly.
You need to have your health insurance card (zdravstvena kartica) with you when you go to see the primary care physician.
What if I need to see the specialist or go to the hospital?
Specialist health care and hospitals
Your primary health care physician, usually your general practitioner or family doctor, assesses if you need some additional tests (for example in laboratories) or further examinations. He/she will give you a referral (napotnica) to a specialist or for laboratory tests. Your doctor usually issues this referral electronically directly to the service provider by way of your health insurance card.
Specialist health care services are provided on appointment only. Usually you have to make the appointment by yourself but you can get information on the specialist from your doctor. When you make an appointment, you will receive the date and time of you appointment that you need to respect or you will have to cancel or postpone your visit.
In case you wish to be examined by a physician of a certain gender (male or female), you need to mention this when making such appointment. Sometimes this is not be possible because of the specialist of the chosen gender is unavailable.
In Slovenia, there are unfortunately long waiting lists for certain examinations and specialist treatments. It is common to wait for several months for some examinations. Slovenes have to wait that long as well. However, if your health condition requires a quick examination, you will be given priority.
If you need to be treated in the hospital (bolnišnica), 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 referral.
What should I do in case of an emergency?
Emergency health care (nujna medicinska pomoč)
In case you need to see a general physician outside their working hours (on weekends, during holidays or at night), you can go to the on-call duty medical service (dežurni zdravnik) in your community healthcare centre. Check where the closest service is.
For emergency medical services, you should call 112 or go to the nearest Health centre with an emergency unit. Emergency medical service in Slovenia is available 24 hours per day all week and during holidays.
You should seek emergency medical services (nujna pomoč) only in cases when your life may be threatened or you there may be severe consequences for your health. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the services yourself.
When making an emergency call you will need to:
- introduce yourself,
- explain what happened,
- explain who needs help,
- give your location.
It is important to stay calm and listen to the instructions carefully. After you make the call, keep the phone line clear in case the emergency team has to call you back.
What dental services can I use?
Primary care dentists (zobozdravnik) work in the community health centres (zdravstveni dom) or in private practice under a contract with public health insurance fund.
As a rule, you will pay for all dental treatments that are not necessary from a medical point of view. It is not uncommon that the patient has to pay for special dental treatments. This applies also to dental implants, which are unfortunately quite expensive. Slovene citizens have to pay such dental services as well.
In case you need a dentist outside of their working hours due to an emergency (severe toothache), you need to contact the emergency dental service, which is provided only by a few healthcare facilities.
Where to get the medicine if I need it?
You can obtain medicine only in pharmacies (lekarna). Every city usually has one.
For some medication, you do not need a prescription (for example for fever, headache or other pain, cough and similar symptoms). You can buy these medicines over the counter in any pharmacy.
For most medication you need prescription (recept) issued by your general physician. If you have health insurance, your general physician will write a prescription for medication (the prescription is usually in electronic form) and you will be able to pick up the medicines in the pharmacy. To get the medicine in the pharmacy you will need to show the prescription (if you get it on paper) and your health insurance card.
You do not have to pay for the prescribed medicine if it is on the list of medication covered by public health insurance fund. Your physician will prescribe you that kind of medication if it is available.
Costs of some medication are only partially covered so you will need to pay a small amount. The same applies to Slovene citizens.
If you urgently need a medicine outside the working hours of pharmacies, you will need to go to the pharmacy that is open every day 00-24 hrs. All the bigger cities have on-duty pharmacies.
What healthcare services are there for children?
In principle, all children under 18 (under 26 for children that go to school), including asylum seekers and children with international protection, have the right to health care in Slovenia in the same scope as children of Slovene citizens.
Infants and preschool children (up to 6 years of age) need to be taken to the paediatrician (pediater), who is specialist for children. You do not need referral to visit a paediatrician; however, you will need to make an appointment in advance by phone or in person.
Children of school age go to the general or family physician, specialising in school-age children.
If your child goes to school, physicians specialized in school medicine at a local health centre will periodically examine him/her. These physicians are perform preventive medical check-ups in schoolchildren and university students, vaccination and health education.
What vaccinations (cepljenje) for children are mandatory in Slovenia?
In Slovenia, there is a mandatory immunization (vaccination) program for children. That means that all children have to be vaccinated against several infectious diseases.
The mandatory vaccinations are given to all children free of charge.
The Slovene Institute for Public Health publishes a children vaccination calendar each year (in Slovene: http://www.nijz.si/sl/koledar-cepljenja-predsolskih-in-solskih-otrok-v-sloveniji)
If your child received some vaccines in your country of origin or in another country, the doctors will adapt the vaccination program in Slovenia to the vaccinations already received. That is why it is important that you keep your children’s vaccination record.
Why is vaccination important?
The vaccination protects your child as well as other children from infectious diseases. Vaccination is the most effective mechanism to prevent spreading infectious diseases within the population.
Apart from that, in Slovenia you cannot enrol your child in kindergarten or school without mandatory vaccination.
You can get all the information and help regarding vaccination from your family doctor or paediatrician or from specialists in any of the branches of the Slovene Institute for Public Health (http://www.nijz.si/en)
Is there a special health care service for women?
Gynaecologists (ginekolog) in community health centres or in private practices who have contract with public health insurance fund will provide you with the primary health service regarding your reproductive (women’s) health. You do not need a referral to see a gynaecologist in primary health care, but you do need to make appointment in advance.
You can choose your gynaecologist and your insurance covers the cost of the visits and further referrals or medicines. If you do not choose your gynaecologist, you can make an appointment with any gynaecologist that is available, but will have to pay for the service.
All women who are pregnant or give birth have the right to same maternal health care services as Slovene nationals regardless the status. This includes regular health exams, medication if needed and counselling during pregnancy, hospital care and assistance during and after childbirth.
Are there health care services particularly for traumatized persons and persons with torture experience?
Health care services for torture survivors and persons experiencing potentially traumatic events usually include psychological counselling and psychotherapy (find more about trauma in the chapter If you feel lonely in a new country – link). You will usually receive these services from non-profit organizations who help and support refugees or they will help you search for this kind of counselling.
If you are a torture survivor or a person who has experienced potentially traumatic events and you need medical assistance and services, non-profit organizations will help you to find a doctor according to your needs and your health care rights.
Further information & links
Health care system in Slovenia with detailed explanations on rights for asylum seekers and refugees: https://www.filantropija.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/medical-treatment.pdf
Health insurance in Slovenia http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1128&langId=en&intPageId=4778
Slovene Health Insurance Institute http://www.zzzs.si/indexeng.html
Slovene Institute of Public Health http://www.nijz.si/en
Multilingual dictionary for easier communication accessing health services (Slovene, Arabic, Farsi): http://multilingualhealth.ff.uni-lj.si/MNZ_arab_far_ponatis_www_skupaj.pdf
Slovenian health system navigation guide in English http://www.nijz.si/sites/www.nijz.si/files/uploaded/health_literacy_booklet_-_slovenia_-_english_za_splet.pdf
Slovenian health system navigation guide in Arabic http://www.nijz.si/sites/www.nijz.si/files/uploaded/health_literacy_booklet_-_slovenia_-_arab_za_splet.pdf (booklet) or http://www.nijz.si/sites/www.nijz.si/files/uploaded/health_literacy_leaflet_-_slovenia_-_arab_za_splet.pdf (leaflet)
Slovenian health system navigation guide in Tigrinya http://www.nijz.si/sites/www.nijz.si/files/uploaded/health_literacy_booklet_-_slovenia_-_tigrinya_za_splet.pdf (booklet) or http://www.nijz.si/sites/www.nijz.si/files/uploaded/health_literacy_leaflet_-_slovenia_-_tigrinya_za_splet.pdf (leaflet)
How can I find a doctor?
You can find a general physician or family medicine specialist in the community health centre (zdravstveni dom) or in a private medical practice. Usually, they can be found in your local community in larger cities or in your municipality, if you live in a smaller town. The general practitioner is, in most cases, your first contact point in the health care system.
If you have the compulsory health insurance, you are entitled to the “chosen physician” (izbrani zdravnik) with whom you are registered. For more information, see section PRIMARY HEALTH CARE above.
If you do not have health care insurance, you are entitled only to emergency health assistance. You can also visit a Health clinic for persons without health insurance. There are a few in every bigger city (Ljubljana, Maribor, Kranj, Koper, Nova Gorica etc.).
What health services can I receive if I have a disability?
If you have a disability, you have the right to 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 a specialist to whom your general physician will refer you) will give you a prescription (recept). The device will be free of charge if it is on the list of medical aid devices approved by Slovene Health Insurance Institute.
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 the public health care system or in private practice. If you are referred by your doctor, you do not have to pay for the treatment.
If you are an asylum seeker or a person who has been granted international protection, you can get free psychological help in organizations that support 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?
You have the right on payed sick leave if you are employed through an employment contract. You have to see or call your doctor (general physician) as soon as you can after you get sick, to start your sick leave. In addition, 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 (you have an employment contract), you are insured in cases of injuries at the workplace. The cost of this insurance is deducted from your gross salary (For more information see Employment – link). This means that the costs of your treatment and rehabilitation are covered by the insurance and you do not have to pay for it. In addition, you are entitled to paid sick leave. This means you will receive 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 (ginekolog). He/she will give you a prescription (recept). Birth control pills are only available in pharmacies, and you will need to pay for certain types.