Friday, 11 February 2022

Retiring in Croatia as a Non-EU National: Croatian Healthcare

February 11, 2022 - When retiring in Croatia, one of the key concerns when considering a move overseas is healthcare, and trying to navigate this space can be a daunting prospect especially for those looking to spend an extended amount of time in Croatia. 

We are here to answer some of the questions on healthcare in Croatia by giving a brief overview of available options, covering factors such as costs, accessibility, and quality of healthcare.

What type of healthcare is available in Croatia?

In Croatia, as either a temporary or permanent resident, you will have access to both state and private healthcare sectors.

There are three main types of state healthcare coverage in Croatia:

  • Obavezno zdravstveno osiguranje – Basic public health insurance (mandatory)
  • Dopunsko zdravstveno osiguranje – Supplemental health insurance from either public or private providers
  • Dodatno zdravstveno osiguranje – Premium private supplemental health insurance offered by banks and private insurers

Let’s start with the basic public health insurance “obavezno” since it is mandatory for all 3rd country residents of Croatia, unless you are on a Digital Nomad Visa, where private health insurance will suffice.

State healthcare - Overview

State healthcare in Croatia is regulated by Hrvatski zavod za zdravstveno osiguranje (HZZO), otherwise known as the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (CHIF).

The breadth and scope of this coverage is extensive. Once you’re in the system, you will have access to high-quality primary (e.g. general practitioners, gynecologists, dentists), secondary (e.g. specialists), and emergency care (e.g. hospitalization). Emergency care also extends to other member states within the European Union.

A wide range of medical prescriptions and certain healthcare aids (e.g. orthopedic, dental, diabetic) are also covered by basic public health insurance.

Before moving, check with your current doctors if your prescription is available locally, or if there is an equivalent that may be under a different brand. You can also look it up in this list if it is covered by HZZO.

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Image: Pexels

State healthcare - Monthly premiums

As a 3rd country national, you can expect your monthly premiums to be around 618.75 HRK (€82) per person as of 2022. This calculation is based on the minimum salary average in Croatia as determined by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

However, if you are receiving a foreign pension, the onus is on you to declare it to the local authorities, especially if your pension is deposited to a Croatian bank account.

Of the amount you receive in foreign pension, 16.5% will go towards monthly HZZO premiums. This contribution is capped at a minimum amount of 618.75 HRK (€82) and a maximum of 1573.60 HRK (€208.70), based on the lowest (3,750 HRK/€497.35) and highest salary averages (9,537 HRK/€1284.85) in Croatia as of 2022.

When you first sign up for HZZO, you will also have to back pay the previous 12 months of monthly premiums even if you were not living in Croatia during that time. Assuming you have no foreign pension declared, this will amount to approximately 8,043.75 HRK (12 + 1 month) (€1066.81).

State healthcare - What will you pay for a visit?

Now that you have public healthcare, when you do see a primary healthcare professional, this care is covered under “obavezno”.

For secondary and emergency care, you pay 20% of services rendered which have minimum amounts of 25 - 100 HRK (€3.30-13.26) depending on whether you received outpatient or inpatient hospitalization care.

These payments can be reduced or removed altogether with the secondary “dopunsko” coverage which calls for another post in itself. For now, just be aware that “dopunsko” coverage costs an additional 45-75 HRK (€6-10) a month per person, and is offered by private insurers as well as HZZO.

Applying for HZZO

To apply for HZZO after your visa has been approved, you will need to download and fill in all necessary forms. As a 3rd country national, the form you’re looking for is a T-2. If you face some uncertainties on how to proceed, do visit your nearest HZZO office for guidance.

Another heads-up is that the English version of the HZZO website only gives 10% of all information available on the Croatian site so it’s better if you visit the Croatian site and do a translation.

Private healthcare - Overview

What if you find yourself needing healthcare while waiting for your visa to be processed? Or if you find yourself in a situation where you need to see a specialist on short notice for a second opinion?

Unless you require urgent medical care (in this case head to the nearest hospital), your first port of call would be to seek out a poliklinika (polyclinic) which is a private clinic.

Most polyclinics house a general practitioner who will accommodate walk-ins or offer appointments likely within the same day or week. They are also able to issue and extend prescriptions for pre-existing medical conditions.

Depending on your ailment, there are also specialized polyclinics that offer a range of services (e.g. dermatologists, gynecologists, urologists). Some policlinics also offer blood work and preventative health screening (e.g. food intolerance, cancer screening).

Croatia also offers top-notch private specialists and hospitals, which is reflected in their growing medical tourism sector. There are also private dental clinics that offer high-quality dental care at competitive rates when compared to other EU countries.

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Image: Pexels

Private healthcare - What will you pay for a visit?

While costs of private healthcare vary, here is a non-exhaustive list of procedures assembled from various sources to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay out of pocket. Depending on your private healthcare policy (e.g. Cigna), you may be able to cover some of these costs but do double-check with your insurance provider.

Sample costs for general healthcare and screening:

  • Basic consultation (general practitioner): 200 HRK (€27)
  • Ultrasound abdominal: 250 HRK (€33)
  • Mole screening: 200 HRK (€27)
  • Food sensitivity tests (220 types): 2,700 HRK (€358)
  • Thyroid panel tests: 450 HRK (€60)
  • Breast/prostate blood panel: 2,335 HRK (€310)
  • MRI-head: 2,090 HRK (€277)
  • CT-Spine (3 segments): 1,030 HRK (€136)

Sample costs for surgery:

  • Artificial disk replacement 113,000 HRK (€15,000)
  • Knee replacement: 56,900 HRK (€7,545)
  • Hip replacement: 56,730 HRK (€7,525)
  • Torn achilles tendon - repair: 18,860 HRK (€2,501)
  • Tennis elbow: 14,720 HRK (€1,952)
  • Cataract and glaucoma (cataract surgery): 11,000 (€1,460)

The estimates above typically include pre-and post-operative consultations, but do not account for long-term rehabilitative care, or possible hotel stays if you are traveling to a specific city to undergo surgery.

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Image: Pexels

Sample costs for dentistry:

  • Basic consultation: 200 HRK (€26)
  • Descale and polish: 480 HRK (€64)
  • Root canal treatment (per root): 500 HRK (€66)
  • Zirconia-based crown: 2,300 HRK (€305)

Most private healthcare providers in Croatia expect cash payment upfront. In some cases, they will accept credit or debit cards, but call or drop them a message to confirm this. If you are a resident of Croatia, some clinics will allow you to pay in installments.

(€1 = 7.54 HRK)

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

All Croatian Medical Tourism Roads Lead to Crikvenica with CIHT 2021

October 23, 2021 - The enormous potential of the Croatian medical tourism industry will once more be the focus next month, as global experts assemble for the annual Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, CIHT 2021. 

After reporting on the news about Croatia for a number of years now, certain things begin to follow a pattern. 

I always report on the Za Krizen procession in Jelsa just before Easter, for example, and there is always a visit to Advent in Zagreb. And early November is reserved for one of my favourite - and impressive - conferences in Croatia, the Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference, or CIHT 2021. 

It has a special place in my heart as it was the catalyst for probably the most unlikeliest stories of my writing career a couple of years ago, as my wife and I found ourselves on a plane to Malaysia where I picked up an award for best online international feature as the inaugural Medical Travel Media Awards in Kuala Lumpur. 

Crikvenica and Malaysia may seem an unlikely combination, and I would have agreed with that had I not met one of the most energetic promoters of all things Croatia, Ognjen Bagatin. 

Co-owner of the hugely successful Bagatin Clinic, Ognjen was passionate about the promotion of the medical tourism industry and realising its potential. 

When I met him, I had no idea that Croatia even had a medical tourism industry. Within 10 minutes of meeting him, I was wondering why the whole world didn't know about the excellence on offer in Croatian clinics, and at very competitive prices. 

It did not take me long to learn that the biggest brand in Croatian medical tourism globally - with the possible execption of Bagatin Clinic at St Catherine's Specialty Hospital - was not in fact Croatia itself, but something called the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster. This was an alliance of interested stakeholders in the medical tourism industry who were doing fantastic work bringing patients for treatment in a number of specialist medical fields, from dentistry to physiotherapy. 

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The highlight of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster's calendar was an annual conference called CIHT (Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference). Ognjen encouraged me to participate where he promised a great conference with some outstanding presentations and people to interview. 

I was stunned by the high-quality of the international experts who had all made the journey to the Crikvenica Riviera for this health conference out of season in November. Keynote speakers I got to interview included Keith Pollard, Editor-in-Chief of the International Medical Travel Journal, Ilan Geva from the USA, a leading medical tourism (and other) branding specialist, and Sherene Azli, the charismatic CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council. 

Sherene's presentation was one of the finest I have seen at every conference, and little did I know it, but that interview started a chain of events which would have me on that plan to Kuala Lumpur less than a year later. 

A year later, I was back in Crikvenica, this time also as a (terrible) conference speaker, sharing the podium with medical tourism experts who had flown in from leading establishmnents such as Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. 

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The Crikvenica was a hit, and a significant player in the global medical tourism calendar. And after the horrors of the 2020 pandemic, I shall once more be making my way down to the Crikvenica Riviera early next month, to take part in CIHT 2021. 

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After a brief (ok, not so brief) COVID interruption last year, Croatian medical tourism is back, and with some very useful additions to the story. The massive expansion of Ryanair (40 destinations for Zagreb alone by next summer) is opening up affordable Croatian medical tourism to more countries and destinations than ever before. 

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Another welcome trend is the rise in the remote work culture. Croatia is enjoying considerable success in its digital nomad story, and the excellent services of the medical tourism industry should be inserted into that initiative, to the benefit of all sides. 

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CIHT 2021 once more has a very strong lineup, and anyone interested in the medical tourism industry will find a night for them at this year's event. You can see the programme of the two-day event above, and you can get more details and register on the official website

I can't promise you a trip to Malaysia if you do attend, but it is definitely one of the best organised, most social, and content-rich conferences on the Croatian conference scene. 

 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

From the UAE to Zagreb and Croatia for Medical Treatment

For a long time now, we've been trying to show and tell people that Croatia is far, far more than just the sun and the sea. Sure, the sparkling Adriatic and the warm climate is of course a big draw for many who take to Croatia's beautiful coastline every summer, but those who think that's all that this incredible little country has to offer are sadly mistaken.

I'm not just talking about the more encouraging numbers of tourists starting to uncover continental Croatia, Eastern Croatia and the country's various hidden gems, but about the Croatia which lies outside of the tourism bubble entirely, well... almost.

Tourism makes up a large part of Croatia's GDP and there's no denying that it is by far the country's strongest economic branch, this is not always a particularly positive thing and owing to it, Croatia has been plagued by enormous seasonality in terms of the economy and the labour market. Unemployment traditionally drops quite suddenly and by a significant amount during the run up to the bustling summer tourist season, especially on the coast, and then rises once again come the end of October thanks to the attempted lengthening of the tourist season, if not before.

Now a victim to a demographic crisis, mass emigration thanks to the country's membership of the EU's single market and a strange paradox in which there are no jobs but plenty of would-be employees but also many jobs and nobody who wants to do them, it's becoming more and more obvious that despite it being the country's strongest economic branch, relying almost entirely on tourist money might not be the best plan. 

So, what else does Croatia have? It has some excellent doctors and nurses and many truly outstanding medical facilities. As Croatia tries to position itself as much more than ''just sea and sunshine'', medical tourism, or perhaps better to say ''health tourism'' has begun to take off, and with some promising results. Just recently, Donald Trump's first wife, Ivana, was in Zagreb for eye surgery at the well known Svjetlost clinic, where she underwent a procedure to restore her vision to normality and afford her a life without glasses and/or contact lenses. People like Ivana catch people's attention, and she's just one of many who have found their way to Croatia for a procedure of some sort.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 29th of April, 2019, tourists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are increasingly travelling to Croatia and love luxury hotels and villas, and the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) is set to present Croatia's rich tourist offer at the ATM Arabian Travel Market in Dubai on May the 1st, 2019.

In the scope of the above, HTZ Director Kristjan Staničić met with media and partners such as WEGO, Medical Ozone, AVIAREPS, Jordan's Tourism Organization, Meetin and Think Strawberries.

"Presenting Croatia on this market and cooperation with the UAE has multiple effects for Croatian tourism and for the economy, and the direct air link between Zagreb and Dubai with Emirates has led to an increased demand from business travellers, as well as tourists from East Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and then even Australia,'' he said.

There are also high expectations from the new Fly Dubai line, which will link Dubrovnik and Dubai from June the 2nd to October the 13th.

Citizens of the UAE realised 25.5 thousand overnight stays in Croatia last year, and most of them came to Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. They are typically demanding guests who love a touch of luxury and are travelling more and more.

In addition to HTZ, there are seven co-exhibitors, TZ Zagreb, TZ Dubrovnik-Neretva County, NP Plitvice Lakes, HUP, Amathus Travel Croatia, Abacus Tours and Jung Sky.

Zagreb will be presented in Dubai as a city break, as well as a health tourism destination.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for much more. If it's just the Croatian capital you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow or check out Zagreb in a Page. Find out more about Croatia's blossoming health tourism story, as well as the health system in general, here.

 

Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

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