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Every country has a different healthcare system and UK citizens who are travelling to Slovakia should be aware of local, regional and nationwide healthcare policies. Whether you’re visiting the country for a short holiday or planning to live and work in Slovakia permanently, it’s essential that you know how to access medical care.
Getting emergency medical help in Slovakia
In a life-threatening or serious emergency, you can call 112 from any phone. Equivalent to 999 in the UK, this number will connect you to the emergency services and you can then request help from the police, the fire brigade or an ambulance.
Ambulance personnel may provide initial treatment at the scene and may then transport you to hospital for further evaluations or treatment. The cost of the medical treatment will depend on your status in Slovakia and the type of facility you are treated in, as well as any insurance policies you have.
Accessing medical treatment during a temporary stay in Slovakia
If you’re in the country temporarily and you’re a UK citizen, you will be able to use a valid European Health Insurance Card to access free or reduced-fee medical treatment. However, this will only apply if the treatment is deemed to be necessary and cannot be delayed until you return home.
Although a valid EHIC entitles you to a variety of necessary medical care, there are some costs which are not covered by a EHIC. These include:
- The cost of returning you to the UK
- The cost of treatment if you’ve travelled to Slovakia in order to obtain medical care
- Search and rescue services
- Treatment aboard a cruise
- Treatment in a private medical facility
Your EHIC, or Európsky preukaz zdravotného poistenia, will only enable you to access subsidised healthcare in state-run facilities. If you are taken to a private hospital or surgery, you will need to pay for your treatment in full.
If you ask hotel staff or a travel rep to access medical help on your behalf, it’s important to ensure that they seek help from state-run facilities. Don’t automatically assume that an ambulance will take you to a state-run hospital or that you’ll be treated as a non-private patient. Always ask the ambulance personnel to take you to a state-run hospital and check that the treatment you’re due to receive can be subsidised under the EHIC scheme.
Similarly, if you are referred to the hospital by a doctor, make sure you are sent to a state-run facility and that they are aware of your EHIC eligibility.
As a EHIC doesn’t cover the cost of all types of treatments, UK citizens are advised to take out travel insurance before they leave the country. As well as paying subsidised fees for EHIC-eligible treatment, you may have to pay the full cost of EHIC-exempt treatment if you don’t have insurance in place, e.g. the cost of medically-assisted transportation back to the UK.
Furthermore, UK citizens can only use a valid EHIC until the UK leaves the EU. Once the UK has left the Union, it is unclear whether UK citizens will still be eligible to receive any subsidised healthcare when they’re visiting Slovakia. In this event, you will be required to pay for any and all medical care you receive whilst you’re visiting Slovakia, so it’s extremely important to obtain a travel insurance policy.
Using a Provisional Replacement Certificate
If you don’t have a valid EHIC and you need medical treatment during a temporary stay in Slovakia, you will need to pay for the cost of your treatment or use any private insurance policies you may have. However, if you have a valid EHIC and have forgotten to bring it with you, you may be able to access a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC).
Issued by the UK Overseas Healthcare Services, this can be sent to the hospital or clinic you’re being treated in and essentially confirms that you are eligible to receive subsidised healthcare under the EHIC scheme.
To obtain a PRC, you will need to contact the Overseas Healthcare Service on:
Calls from inside the UK: 0191 218 1999
Calls from outside the UK: (+44) 191 218 1999
Lines are open from 8am – 6pm UK time, from Monday to Friday.
Travelling to Slovakia with a pre-existing health condition
Whilst the UK remains in the EU, a valid EHIC will enable you to obtain subsidised treatment for existing conditions. However, anyone with an existing health condition should seek medical advice before they fly or leave the country.
Similarly, you will need to notify your travel insurer of any pre-existing health conditions or your coverage may be invalidated.
Getting dental treatment when you visit Slovakia
Only dental emergencies are covered by the state-funded healthcare system in Slovakia. If you receive emergency dental treatment during a temporary stay in Slovakia, a valid EHIC may enable you to obtain reduced-fee treatment.
However, you may be required to pay a contribution to the cost of your treatment and, after the UK leaves the EU, you may have to pay the cost in full, unless you have appropriate travel insurance in place.
Using prescription medication in Slovakia
If you’re in the country temporarily and you’re prescribed medication, you can use a valid EHIC to reduce the fees you’ll need to pay. Generally, people who are of working age are required to pay 50% of the cost, whereas pensioners who are in receipt of a UK State Pension will only be required to pay around 10% of the cost.
Remember – this only applies for as long as your EHIC is valid. Once the UK leaves the EU, the rules regarding the EHIC may change and you may not be able to access reduced fees or subsidies.
Bringing medication to Slovakia
If you’re travelling to Slovakia for a holiday or will be staying in the country for less than three months, you may need to bring medication with you. If you are prescribed medicines in the UK and need to bring them to Slovakia, you should also bring a copy of the prescription and documentation which proves your identity.
For some medications, however, the rules are more stringent and you’ll need to take extra precautions. Some medicines are controlled drugs, for example, and you’ll need a personal licence in order to bring them into Slovakia legally. Before you travel, check whether any of your prescription medication is banned or considered to be a controlled substance and, if so, get the right documentation in place.
Accessing medical care if you live and work in Slovakia
An EHIC can only be used by temporary visitors to Slovakia, so if you’re visiting the country for longer than three months you won’t be able to use your EHIC to access reduced-cost healthcare services. If you’re moving to Slovakia permanently or intend to stay in the country for longer than three months, different rules regarding healthcare services will apply.
The healthcare system in Slovakia is funded, in part, by mandatory insurance contributions. This means that everyone who works, for example, is required to pay a percentage of their income towards the cost of state-funded care.
For workers and those who are self-employed or have permanent residency status in Slovakia, you will be need to make contributions to a health insurance fund. Typically, employees in Slovakia pay approximately 4% of their wages to a health insurance fund, with their employer paying another 10% equivalent contribution on their behalf. Self-employed persons in Slovakia are usually required to pay the full 14% contribution themselves.
If you are unemployed, under the age of 18, on maternity leave or have a disability, the government may make health insurance contributions on your behalf, so you should still be able to access state-funded care.
There are three funds which contribute to the state system and you must make contributions to one of them. Providing you make the required contributions, you will be able to obtain the same state-funded health services as Slovakian citizens while you’re living and working in the country. There are, however, contributions or co-payments you must make for certain services. These are currently set at the following:
Prescription costs: €0.17 per prescription
Transport to and from health services: €0.07 per kilometre
Medical devices, pharmaceuticals and dietary foods: Co-payments requirement for 60% of the items needed
24 hour, 7 days a week first aid service: €1.99
Spas: from €1.66 upwards
Healthcare for posted workers in Slovakia
Employees who are working in Slovakia but have been posted there by a UK-based company, may be able to obtain UK-funded healthcare services. You should check with HMRC whether you’ll be eligible to receive this type of funding before you leave the UK.
Posted workers often require additional travel insurance when they’re working in Slovakia, because the range of UK-funded treatment may not cover every eventuality. If you’re a posted worker and you can’t get UK-funded treatment, you will need to cover the cost yourself unless you have a travel insurance policy which will reimburse you.
Getting medical treatment as a pensioner in Slovakia
If you are a UK citizen, live in Slovakia and are of pensionable age, there are a variety of ways to obtain the medical care you need. If you have previously paid contributions to the UK national insurance system or in receipt of a UK exportable benefit or pension, you may be able to access UK-funded medical treatment.
However, you will need to make an application for an S1 Certificate of Entitlement from the UK Business Services Authority before you will be able to access UK-funded treatment. Furthermore, the S1 scheme may no longer be applicable once the UK has left the EU.
Although you should still apply for an S1 certifiate while the UK remains in the EU, it’s important to consider what steps you will need to take when the UK leaves the Union, particularly if the UK leaves with no deal.
Currently, pensioners who intend to live in the country for longer than three months will be required to register with their local police department. Additionally, anyone who is residing in the country for longer than a period of 30 days will need to apply for either a:
- Long-term visa, or dlhodobé vízum
- Temporary residence permit, or prechodný pobyt
- A permanent residence permit, or trvalý pobyt na päť rokov
There are various requirements for each visa or permit option, and application fees may apply. If you successfully obtain a residency permit, you will be required to have valid health insurance in place within three days of receiving your permit.
However, no agreements have been formalised so these rules could change when the UK leaves the EU.
Obtaining medical care if you’re a student in Slovakia
If you’re travelling from the UK to Slovakia to study, you should be able to use a valid EHIC to obtain subsidised treatment for as long as the UK remains in the EU, providing you will only be staying in the country for a maximum of three months.
If you plan on staying in Slovakia for longer than a period of three months in order to study, you will need to have travel insurance in place. Without appropriate travel insurance, you will be required to fund the cost of all medical treatment you receive while you’re in the country.
Whilst treatment under the EHIC scheme is subsidised, there are often fees which need to be paid. Furthermore, the EHIC scheme doesn’t cover the cost of all types of medical incidents or assistance, such as search and rescue teams. Due to this, even students who are studying in Slovakia for three months or less are advised to obtain travel insurance before they travel.
Obtaining medical help in Slovakia
With a number of state-run hospitals situated all over Slovakia, you should be able to access any necessary medical care you need whilst you’re in Slovakia. With plenty of English-speaking medical professionals and access to translators, you will be able to converse with your medical team in English, if you’re not fluent in Slovak.
Whilst the rules governing access to healthcare in Slovakia currently work well for both temporary and long-term visitors to the country, they are likely to change when the UK leaves the EU. Due to this, UK citizens who are currently residing in Slovakia or who are planning to travel to the country, should keep up-to-date with the news and make sure they’re aware of any changes which may affect their eligibility when it comes to accessing medical care and assistance.