Wednesday, 24 May 2023

The EHIC - How to Utilise Your Croatian Health Insurance Abroad

May the 24th, 2023 - I tackled navigating Croatian Health Insurance (HZZO) in another article, and while getting insured as a foreigner living in Croatia can sometimes be more of a task than it needs to be, there are numerous benefits to going through the process. One of them, aside from it being mandatory, is that you can utilise your Croatian Health Insurance abroad.

Having HZZO means that you're also insured across the European Union (EU). Should you become unwell, injured, or require medical treatment, having HZZO means you'll get access to it on the same basis as nationals/residents of whatever EU country you're temporarily located in also do. Here's how to make sure that you're covered should misfortune befall you when spending time in another EU member state.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

An EHIC is provided to all individuals who request one as long as they're insured by the state/public policy in their EU country of residence. This means that, as stated above, by having HZZO, you're entitled to an EHIC. An EHIC is issued by HZZO for free and is typically (but not always) issued for a period of one year at a time. The validity of the EHIC will be displayed on the card.

Do I need to be a Croatian citizen to have an EHIC issued to me by HZZO?

No. In fact, many Croatian citizens who live and work abroad have ended up in hot water for utilising their Croatian Health Insurance abroad despite no longer living or working in the country. You just need to be a legal resident of Croatia who has HZZO in order to be given an EHIC and as such utilise your Croatian Health Insurance abroad. You can find out more about who needs to be insured by HZZO and who doesn't by clicking here.

What does the EHIC cover?

An EHIC will allow you to utilice your Croatian health insurance abroad and access treatment at any public medical facility or hospital in another EU country either for free or at a reduced cost. It covers you if you require urgent medical attention/treatment which cannot be postponed until you leave whatever country you're in. It will also cover you for your pre-existing conditions or chronic health issues as long as the trip you're on isn't a ''medical/healthcare tourism'' trip.

So, if you've gone skiing in Italy and you happen to suffer from hypertension that is being treated already but you experience some issues, you'll be able to use your EHIC to be seen by a contracting doctor in a public healthcare facility. 

If you're visiting historic places somewhere in France and you're diabetic and need some sort of medical attention as a result - No problem.

On that same note, it's worth keeping firmly in mind that the EHIC doesn't cover everything, and it will typically only cover unplanned treatment you need until your return to your country of residence. It will also usually cover maternity care and any pregnancy complications as long as you've not clearly planned to give birth abroad.

What about cancer treatment and the like?

You can also utilise your Croatian Health Insurance abroad through an EHIC if you require chemotherapy, oxygen therapy, treatment for conditions such as asthma, and some other types of ongoing therapy, including dialysis. In such cases, however, you'll need to come to an agreement with the healthcare facility/hospital you'll be using before you travel to whatever EU country it is located in.

Is an EHIC the same as travel insurance?

In short - No. You should always take out a travel insurance policy as the EHIC doesn't act as an alternative to what comprehensive travel insurance will offer you. It isn't going to cover any private medical healthcare or associated costs. It won't cover your repatriation either. Some insurers who offer travel insurance policies to clients now insist that the applicant hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you do hold one.

I ended up having to pay for my medical treatment abroad despite having an EHIC, will HZZO refund me?

Usually, yes. If the healthcare you required abroad was urgent, then you can apply for a refund from HZZO when you return to Croatia.

How can apply for an EHIC?

In Croatian, the EHIC is referred to as the EKZO (Europska kartica zdravstvenog osiguranja), and can be applied for either at your local HZZO branch/office or online. It is usually made and available for you to pick up eight days after your application is made.

When applying online, you'll need to fill in your OIB/Personal identification number and your MBO/Insurance identification number, as well as the desired location of your local HZZO office, from which you'll want to pick up your EHIC when it's ready.

If you want to apply for yours online, click here.

For a list of HZZO offices you can either go to to apply for your EHIC in person or to pick up your EHIC from after applying online, click here and select your area/city/town.

What if I stop being covered by HZZO?

If your Croatian Health Insurance coverage ceases for whatever reason, you'll need to return your EHIC to your regional/local HZZO office.


For more on moving to, living in and travelling to and from Croatia, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section. An article tackling anything from a specific administrative issue to tips on renting a car or bringing your pet into the country is published every Wednesday as part of our How to Croatia series.

Monday, 3 April 2023

Significant Number of People to Lose Croatian Health Insurance

April the 3rd, 2023 - A considerable number of individuals, 300,000 of them to be more precise, could end up losing their Croatian health insurance as a new law is now in force.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a new law will fully enable the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (Croatian: HZZO) to ''clean up'' the records it holds of insured persons from so-called "fictitious" insured persons. Many such people with ''fictitious'' insurance have now left Croatia, got a job abroad and actually no longer have the right to access public Croatian health insurance. According to estimates by the health administration, that figure could total around 300,000 insured persons, writes Novi list.

Amendments to the Law on Compulsory Health Insurance have now entered into force, which prescribe the obligation for insured persons to report to their local HZZO office in person if they have reached the age of eighteen, terminated their employment, or served military service or a prison sentence. In the case of an application to the employment office, such reporting to HZZO offices is not necessary.

The obligation to report in person to HZZO in order to check the circumstances on the basis of which their Croatian health insurance status was determined (if they aren't registered in the records of unemployed persons of the Croatian Employment Service) is prescribed by new legal provisions for everyone after the age of eighteen, after the end of the school year in which they finished their mandatory education or after passing their final exam, or after the termination of an employment relationship.

According to the new law, all those who have just served military service and prisoners (after having been released from an institution for the execution of criminal and misdemeanor sanctions), as well as from a health or other specialised institution, such as a secure psychiatric hospital, must also report to HZZO.

The aforementioned categories of insured persons must report in person to the nearest HZZO office within 90 days from the date of entry into force of the Act, i.e. no later than June the 29th, 2023. If they don't want to remain without any Croatian health insurance, they will still have the obligation to come to HZZO in person once every three months, except for the times during which their names can be found in the records of unemployed persons at the Croatian Employment Service.

Those who do not fulfill their obligation within the prescribed period, i.e. by the end of June this year, and after that once every three months, will simply be deregistered from compulsory Croatian health insurance ex officio, without issuing any kind of special decision.

According to the new legal provisions, insured persons who have registered a temporary departure outside of Croatia can retain their Croatian health insurance until the end of June at the latest, and HZZO will deregister them from compulsory health insurance ex officio at the end of that period, and as stated above, they'll do so without issuing a decision.

These are mainly emigrants who have now left Croatia and gone to work abroad in the last decade, and yet they have remained on the list of insured persons at HZZO and occasionally use healthcare services when in Croatia. At the beginning of 2022, a comparison of the number of inhabitants in the last population census and the number of people who hold Croatian health insurance showed that there are 200,000 more people insured through HZZO compared to the total number of inhabitants in Croatia.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Faster HZZO Medicine Listing Would Save Another Billion for Healthcare System

April the 17th, 2022 - The much more rapid and efficient listing of HZZO medicine could end up saving the already enfeebled Croatian healthcare system another billion kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Croatian healthcare system could save an additional one billion kuna per year if the policy of putting generic and biologically similar drugs on the lists of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) was improved and accelerated, according to Croatian pharmaceutical generic companies within the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP).

Currently, the system saves about 300 million kuna a year with the use of this HZZO medicine, but the potential is significantly higher, said Jerko Jaksic, president of the Association of Drug Manufacturers at HUP, at a briefing for journalists which took place on Thursday.

According to data from back in 2019, 61 percent of the volume of prescription drugs in the Republic of Croatia is made up of generic drugs, which is slightly lower than the EU average of 67 percent. The situation with biosimilars is much worse, they accounted for a modest 13 percent of the market in total consumption of biological drugs.

Although further growth is expected in the coming years, in addition to education, it's necessary to accelerate their application when they are registered with the European Medicines Agency and the Croatian Medicines Agency.

As the manufacturers have explained, the HZZO procedure for listing a drug, which is purely administration and paperwork, takes an average of four to six months, during which time money is directly lost that could be saved by using generic instead of innovative therapy.

“So-called drug penetration into the system should be significantly quicker, which is even more significant when it comes to biological drugs, as biological drugs are very expensive. We have announcements from the Croatian Health Insurance Fund that this process could be accelerated, and we're very happy about that. There's no reason why a drug shouldn't automatically be on the list immediately after its registration, and it would be very good if the new procedure comes to life by the middle of this year because patents for some drugs expire soon,'' Jaksic said.

In particular, these are diabetes related drugs, and the potential for savings is 30 percent for the healthcare system, with the release of patient participation. With proper application, in 2023, 15 percent more patients could be treated for the same cost in this segment alone, HUP pointed out. The data also shows that biosimilars have increased the availability of biologic therapy.

For example, in the immunology segment, 67 percent more patients were treated for only 19 percent more. Back in 2021, 2.5 times more patients were treated with the chemotherapy mitigation drug than in 2019 for approximately the same total cost. In 2020 alone, biosimilars provided savings of 200 million kuna. However, the biggest shortcoming in the drug policy in Croatia is still poor cost control, due to insufficient therapeutic guidelines and measuring the effectiveness of therapies, they added from HUP.

Patient registries exist only for a small number of diagnoses and a large role in this is played by patient associations, which are as such fighting for the better availability of some drugs, but for most patients and diagnoses, not all treatment parameters are systematically monitored.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Croatian Retirees Can Request Free Supplementary Health Insurance

April the 2nd, 2022 - Croatian retirees, we well as other groups of people legally resident in Croatia, can now request free supplementary health insurance coverage (dopunsko zdravstveno osiguranje) through the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, HZZO.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, HSU (Croatian Party of Pensioners) has called on all Croatian retirees, but also other residents to whom this new and very welcome rule applies, to make sure they take the opportunity to exercise their right to free supplementary health insurance.

Many Croatian retirees, as well as other groups of individuals who fall into the category of people to whom this applies, have still not exercised their right to supplementary health insurance at the expense of the state and may be needlessly paying for it, if they have it already. Amendments to the Law on Voluntary Health Insurance which came into force back in November last year, at the initiative of the HSU, raised the threshold.

This new free policy for an additional form of health insurance through HZZO can be realised by anyone who has an income of up to 2,065.60 kuna per family member, or 2,582 kuna for a single person.

If this is you, then what needs to be done?

If you are a Croatian retiree or fall into one of the aforementioned categories of people, you can make your way to your nearest local HZZO office and fill out the appropriate form to conclude your contract on supplementary health insurance at the expense of the state. A clerk working there will be able to point you in the right direction and guide you through the process and what you can expect from it if necessary.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


Friday, 18 February 2022

Those Who Don't Seek Work Through Croatian Employment Service to Lose Health Insurance

February the 18th, 2022 - Those job seekers who aren't registered with the Croatian Employment Service and don't use the service to look for work could end up without any health insurance, it has emerged.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, all unemployed persons who have failed to register themselves with the Croatian Employment Service (CES) could be left without their right to health insurance. Namely, the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO), as part of their ongoing process of ''cleaning up'' their register, is preparing legal amendments which, twenty years after their initial abolition, will return the provision according to which an unemployed person acquires health insurance only if he is registered with the Croatian Employment Service.

This means that, according to some rough calculations, in the coming period, another 100,000 people could apply to the Croatian Employment Service. This would also regard all kinds of currently unemployed people who are not looking for a job through the service at all, because otherwise they could easily be left without healthcare coverage.

The number of unemployed Croatian residents registered at the Croatian Employment Service would double in such a case: according to the CES, there were a total of 129,459 people registered as unemployed with them on Wednesday, as was reported by Jutarnji list.

The Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO) has already signed an agreement on the establishment of a proper IT connection with the service so that it can automatically control who is and who is not registered, and it has similar agreements with both the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) and the Tax Administration.

The purpose of the move is to ''clean up'' the register of insured persons of about 300,000 people, as many as are estimated not to be entitled to Croatian health care, yet are likely still accessing it.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

120,000 More Croatian Residents to Get Free Supplementary Health Insurance

October the 23rd, 2021 - As many as 120,000 Croatian residents are set to get free supplementary health insurance (dopunsko) provided to them by the state. These individuals are overwhelmingly pensioners.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of December the 1st, 2021, as many as 120,000 Croatian residents, primarily pensioners, will receive a supplementary health insurance policy from HZZO at the expense of the state.

At yesterday's session, the Croatian Government accepted Silvano Hrelja's proposal to amend the Law on Voluntary Health Insurance, which raises the income threshold on the basis of which Croatian residents are entitled to the state to pay for their supplementary health insurance, so, in the future, the threshold per household member will be two thousand kuna, and for a single person it will rise to two and a half thousand kuna.

This represents an increase in both categories by more than 400 kuna, or 25 percent compared to the current census, and Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros explained that in the future, an additional 120,000 Croatian residents will, as stated, receive a supplementary HZZO health insurance policy at the expense of the state. The state budget will have around one hundred million kuna per year taken out of it as a result.

The fact that the Croatian Government is ready and willing to accept Silvano Hrelja's proposal could be inferred from the fact that among the MPs who signed the support for sending legal changes to the parliamentary procedure were numerous HDZ members, and Minister Beros himself said that this sets a more appropriate threshold for the most socially sensitive in our society.

Hrelja's support from the Croatian Government has already resulted in the previously announced intervention in the area of ​​family pensions, which the Government has included in the national recovery and resilience plan, taking place two years earlier than originally envisaged, which should bring a 10 percent increase to pensions for more than 200,000 retirees as of the year 2023, Novi list writes.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle and politics sections.