Made in Croatia

Absurdistan: Croatian Free Health Care and the Bizarre 30 Day Rule

It is always nice to hear from our readers, especially when they supply interesting insights into The Beautiful Croatia. A look at one of the strange anomalies of the Croatian health insurance system on June 21, 2017.

We get a lot of emails here at TCN, with over half of them being abusive, much of the rest looking for free promotion, and even some asking for help finding a Croatian girlfriend (yes, really). 

And in among all this, sometimes there are some genuinely funny submissions, and those of general interest. 

I will confess that I am not an expert in the intricacies of Croatian health insurance law, as my company of 15 years looks after all that, but having shared this email below with several locals, they concur with the contents, and even added their own experiences. Croatian free heatlh insurance and the bizarre 30 day rule. Many thanks to G.M for this piece.

If you have any similar wonderful tales of life in The Beautiful Croatia, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will be happy to publish quality submissions. 


I like your blog and site. So here's one interesting thing about Croatia that you may not know as a foreigner.

In Croatia we often brag about our basic insurance which is "free for everyone" no matter whether you're employed or not. Unlike Americans. At least before Obama. Also, our insurance covers a lot of dental services, unlike in many other countries. Even if you're unemployed. Which is nice (although it's not really free, we're all paying for that).

But thanks to our complicated, outdated and moronic bureaucracy, even something good can easily be turned into crap. The problem is that one can lose basic health insurance (guaranteed by the law) without an easy way to get it back. The worst part is the tragicomic way our bureaucracy produces this problem. Here's how... but first 2 ways how to get into this situation:

Case 1:

Let's say you're in one of those categories:
- student: Health insurance guaranteed when you're accepted by the faculty.
- employed: Money for health insurance taken from your salary every month, so of course you're insured.

Now, let's say you find a new job. So, you graduated, or if employed, you quit your old job. But there's a problem. Your new employer is dishonest. He lies to you that you're regularly employed, while in fact he's keeping you unemployed (this is not rare in Croatia). Once you figure out he's cheating you quit your job. You can even sue him (but it takes a long time and it's expensive to win the case). It doesn't matter. Now you come to the HZZO office to sign up for the health care while being unemployed. Here's the conversation:

- Hello, I'd like to apply for mandatory health care
- Okay, give me your papers. Ohhhh.... you missed your 30-day period to apply for health insurance.
- So what, it's a mandatory insurance, what does it make difference when do I apply? I'm a Croatian citizen.
- Yes, but you have to apply within 30 days from losing your old job, or stopping being a student.
- But why? I can apply to the unemployment office any time and no problems.
- Yes, but we have this 30-day period.
- Okay, so what now? How can I get my insurance while I'm unemployed?
- If you're a student, and your parents are alive, you can insure yourself via them.
- I'm not a student.
- Okay, if you're married, you can insure yourself by way of your spouse.
- I'm not married. Does that mean unmarried people and widowers are 2nd grade citizens in Croatia?
- Look, I didn't write the law, I'm trying to help.
- Okay, isn't there another way? After all, Croatia guarantees universal healthcare, right?
- Yeah..... but only if you apply within 30 days.
- What does it make sense? It wasn't my fault. I just saved you 6 months of expenses for healthcare. Shouldn't you be thankful that I didn't apply earlier?
- It's the law. I didn't write the law.

And now comes the best part:
- I can't believe there's nothing I can do to get the basic health insurance.
- Well, you can pay for your insurance.
- To a private company?
- No, to us. You cannot get a private insurance without the basic insurance anyway. At least not in Croatia. So you pay to us for the basic insurance.
- What?? Pay to the government, while I'm unemployed, in a country that guarantees health care??????
- Yes, that's the only thing you can do to get insured past the 30-days period.
- But that's stupid! Okay, how much?
- 400 kn a month.
- That's not much, but now that I'm unemployed, it's not little either. I can pay that amount for maybe a year. But what if I don't get a job? I will have to break the contract.
- You can't.
- What???
- You can't break the contract. Only if you get employed or get a regular student status can you stop paying.
- Are you kidding me??? What if I don't have money anymore?? I'm unemployed!
- If you don't have money, the bills will pile up, and then you will have problems.
- You're crazy!! Even the Russian mafia stops racketeering people that don't have money anymore. All I ask is to have as much humanity as Mafia! Am I asking too much?
- Sorry sir, but you can't stop the insurance once you start it.
- Why not?
- Because it's mandatory.
- If it's mandatory then why don't you insure me???
- Because you didn't apply within 30 days...

And then you can only start laughing. Or get a shotgun. Although it probably wouldn't help. Because nobody in the country can explain what's the purpose of that 30-day period. Do computers stop working if you enter a new record 31 days later? Or is it just a scam to devoid people from their basic right. In which case Croatia doesn't really have universal healthcare.

Just by removing the 30-day period all the people who are now uninsured in Croatia would reapply, and problem solved. But nobody wants to even talk about this. Not even media. I send this to "Potrošački kod" and "Provjereno" and many other TV shows and newspapers, nobody even mentioned it. Like a taboo.