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Health Emergencies for Expats in Russia

Submitted: December 2013

If you are in a life-threatening emergency, you must go to a hospital. Failure to do so promptly will only make things worse. As Russia is the world’s largest country, it makes a huge difference whether you are in central Moscow or in Siberia. If your problem is less serious, you might wish to consider avoiding public hospitals, as these are so overstretched that you’d rather stay away from them unless you really have no choice (e.g. heart attack, road accident, etc.).

It is always advisable not to be alone at the hospital, especially if you don’t speak fluent Russian. Thus, you should call somebody to come with you to the hospital as soon as possible.

Emergency numbers

The official emergency number for health emergencies in Russia is 112, and calls to 112 are generally free.

There is also a paid-for ambulance service in Moscow and its surroundings. Its number is +7 495-777-4849. This can be useful if you are looking for a high-quality service, but be aware that this can easily cost you at least $200.

Alternatively, you can call a doctor’s out-of-hours service.

Cost of emergency treatment (public facilities)

As a rule, first-aid care is provided for free with no questions asked, apart from how bad your situation really is. Accordingly, a public hospital would take you out of a life-threatening emergency free of charge, even if you are an uninsured foreigner.

However, the hospital is likely to ask your insurance details once you condition stabilises, failing which a fee may be charged. The good news is that Russian public hospitals are inexpensive compared to their Western counterparts.

Less serious matters

For any urgent matter other than life-threatening emergencies, you might wish to consider a private clinic with English-speaking staff. In many cases, they are happy to market themselves as providers specifically for expatriates.

Many expats would rather stay away from hospitals in order to get high-quality urgent care. There is a price for this, but it can be worth it if you can afford the fees.

Travel advice

Many countries provide updated travel information to their citizens, and this often includes health advice. You should regularly check the Foreign Office website of your home country to see if there are any specific steps you need to make. Alternatively, you can go to your local embassy in Russia.

Russia might not be a tropical country, but there are still some health risks in Russia.



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