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Healthcare in Russia has traditionally been provided by the public sector, but there is a limited but growing number of private practices. Healthcare standards are fair, but you should not expect Russian hospitals to be pleasant. Actually, they are not the place where you want to be unless you really need treatment. Availability of well-trained doctors and high-technology equipment can be an issue, especially you live in a remote place and you require something very specific. Hospital equipment may be fairly old as well.
If you are not happy with the Russian healthcare system, you can still consider postponing treatment until after you leave Russia. If quality is really what you are after, you may also consider some medical tourism to an EU country. In any event, you must go to a Russian hospital if you are in an emergency situation.
Unless you speak fluent Russia, language is likely to be a problem. This is one good reason to go to a private clinic with English-speaking staff instead of a public hospital.
In a large town, it is largely possible to find English-speaking healthcare professionals who speak English, though you might need to search out. In the countryside, this is much more random. In any event, you are generally better off if you have local friends who can help you out when you need it.
Healthcare availability for expatriates
You should check without delay the doctors and hospitals available in your local area. If you live in the countryside, you are likely to require some travel, especially if you require English-speaking staff and/or modern equipment.
The cost of healthcare in Russia is a far cry below what you would get in the US.
The fees charged by Russian public healthcare establishments are moderately low by international standards. Should you decide to go private, the charges may be higher. In world-class facilities (i.e. those with highly qualified English-speaking staff), don’t expect the fees to be low.
Finding a doctor
You should look for a good general practitioner in your local area as soon as possible. A GP may refer you to a specialist or to a hospital if he believes you need it. You cannot apply for specialist treatment unless you have prior referral from a general practitioner. Overall, the process may take a few months, so you should plan in advance.
Although these services are generally not subsidised in Russia, you should not underestimate dental care and eye care. Failure to act in this area (e.g. make regular check-ups) may aggravate your situation later in life. Remember that Russia isn’t necessarily an expensive jurisdiction when it comes to healthcare.
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Word of mouth can help you determine if a specific doctor or hospital is trustworthy or not. You are always better off knowing in advance who you can trust.
In Russia, you can generally buy drugs from your local pharmacist only. Unlike some other countries, you usually cannot get medicines from a store chain. You may also need a prescription from your doctor, but many drugs are sold without restriction. If your medical condition requires something specific, it’s best to bring your medicines with you when you come to Russia, if you are allowed to.
Medicines are generally not provided free of charge. Subject to a few exceptions, they are not subsidised either.
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