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The healthcare system in Romania has much in common with that of the UK, with both state and private facilities working simultaneously across the nation. However, many of the intricacies and nuances of the system are different, and if you are visiting the country then there are various things you need to know. The length and purpose of your visit will have an impact on what you need to know and what you might have to do, so here is a rundown of all the important information regarding healthcare in Romania.
Anyone who requires urgent medical attention will be provided with emergency care. If you don’t have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you should expect to pay in full for your treatment. It is a good idea to purchase travel insurance with sufficient healthcare cover to fund any treatment you receive whenever you travel abroad. Any paperwork, including receipts, relating to your treatment should be retained in order to apply for any refunds that may be available.
As it stands, the EHIC provides UK residents with access to state-provided healthcare in Romania for a reduced fee, or sometimes free of charge if you are on a temporary stay. Any facility that asks for payment upfront is probably not under the state healthcare system. Be advised that EHIC won’t cover certain costs, such as:
- private healthcare
- transport back to the UK
- healthcare on cruises
- mountain rescue
In some regions of Romania, particularly the outlying islands, healthcare providers are few and far between. You should expect to have to travel some distance to receive treatment if you are in one of these areas.
There is state and private healthcare operating simultaneously in Romania. The private health services are expanding quite rapidly in the country, offering services that require patient payments and providing receipts so that patients can seek reimbursement from private insurers.
The uncertainty of Brexit is impacting on our understanding of how healthcare will look when visiting EU countries like Romania. If you plan to visit Romania after Brexit has been completed, it is recommended that you take out travel insurance to ensure you have access to healthcare. Your insurance package will dictate the healthcare entitlements you have, so choose carefully.
It is unknown whether the EHIC will continue to be valid after the UK leaves the EU. The British government is working on reaching agreements with countries, including Romania, regarding healthcare arrangements for UK citizens, so watch out for further developments on this topic.
The provisional replacement certificate (PRC)
The PRC is a document that indicates an individual’s entitlement to EHIC. If you don’t have your EHIC with you but require medical care, you can contact Overseas Healthcare Services and request a PRC that can be shown to the hospital. This will avoid you being charged directly. The number to call is:
Inside UK: 0191 218 1999
Outside UK: +44 191 218 1999
(Offices opening hours are Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00 UK time)
Pre-existing health conditions
You should purchase medical travel insurance before travelling if you have a pre-existing health condition. It is imperative that you inform the insurance company of any pre-existing health issues or conditions you may have, regardless of how ‘minor’ they may seem to you. Failure to do so could result in your policy being invalid, which could mean you aren’t covered in the event that you do require healthcare in Romania. An EHIC will be valid up until Brexit is completed, but may no longer work afterwards.
If your pre-existing health condition will definitely require treatment whilst you are travelling, you should see your doctor before you depart to get advice on what you need to do. It will be important to carry documents about your condition and any medication you require.
If you are travelling to Romania to receive a specific medical treatment, you should make sure you have researched and learnt all the pertinent information before attempting to do so.
Any prescriptions you are given will be fulfilled either for free or on a subsidised basis, depending on your personal circumstances. There is a list of medicines which are provided for free, published under the National Health Insurance Authority. With the EHIC, anyone of working age is charged 50% of the prescription cost, while pensioners are charged 10%. Pensioners will be required to declare that they are in receipt of the UK State Pension in order to be charged the lower rate.
Bringing medication into Romania
If your medication contains substances that are regulated by the Misuse of Drugs legislation, there are extra legal controls that apply to your medicine. You may require a personal licence to take your medication abroad with you. There will also be specific instructions about how you carry those medicines and the information that you need to take with you. Visit the relevant section of the GOV.UK website for further information.
The state healthcare system does not cover dental treatment in Romania unless it is an emergency.
To receive hospital treatment in Romania you will need a referral from a GP, just like in the UK. Make sure your referral is to a state hospital, as they are the only ones that will provide treatment without charging you. However, even in a state hospital, it will be necessary for you to present a valid EHIC, and you should double-check you are not being treated as a private patient.
You have the right to insist your EHIC is accepted when seeking medical care at a facility under the Romanian state healthcare system. You are not obliged to provide details of travel insurance – it is your choice whether or not to do so.
To be put on a patient list, you must be registered with a GP, who will operate as a family doctor. The family doctor is your first point of contact for healthcare in Romania and acts as something of a ‘gatekeeper’ for further treatment. Referrals from GPs are required to see specialists or receive non-emergency hospital care.
The number to call in a genuine emergency in Romania is 112. There is no charge for calling this number, and it can connect you with the police and fire brigade, as well as ambulance services.
If you have a hotel or travel representative call on your behalf in an emergency, they may contact a private treatment facility. They will often reassure visitors that you will be able to claim back whatever you pay out, but this is only the case if you have taken out private insurance. To be treated under the state system, the number to call is 112, and you ask for an ambulance to transport you to the nearest state hospital.
Working in Romania
If you live and work in Romania, making national insurance contributions, you have the same entitlement to state healthcare as a Romanian national. Anyone posted to Romania by a UK company may be entitled to have their healthcare funded by the UK – contact HM Revenue and Customs to learn whether you are eligible for this.
If you are a non-EU citizen hoping to stay in Romania, you will have to apply for either a short-stay visa (C) or a long-stay visa (D):
- the short-stay visa (C) permits you to enter Romania and remain for a period of no longer than 90 days within an interval of up to 6 months from your entry date
- the long-stay visa permits you to enter and remain in Romania for the same 90-day period but qualifies you to have your visa extended by the Romanian Ministry of Administration and Interior 30 days before the initial visa expires
If you wish to apply for a Romanian visa, you should head to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website to learn about eligibility and the process of applying.
You can apply for a long-term residence permit if you have lived continuously in Romania for the preceding 5+ years. A long-term residence permit will be valid for 5 years.
If you pay health insurance contributions in Romania, you will have continued access to free/discounted healthcare. UK posted workers may need to take out private healthcare insurance in Romania to ensure you have access to the treatment you need. The state healthcare system in Romania is managed by the National Health Insurance House (NHIH), providing free or subsidised medical care to anyone living in Romania. You must contribute to the NHIH if you live there and wish to have the same access to state medical care as Romanian citizens. Contributions are automatically deducted from your salary.
If you meet any of the following criteria, you may be entitled to free medical insurance in Romania:
- you are aged 0-18
- you are a student aged 26 or under and are not employed
- you are retired
- you are in receipt of unemployment benefits and/or social assistance
Private insurers require you to retain receipts for your treatment in order to claim your reimbursement.
If you are a UK resident studying in Romania, and you have an EHIC, this remains valid up until Brexit is complete. After that date, the details are yet to be confirmed, so you should consider buying insurance to cover your healthcare after the UK departs from the EU.
A student in Romania will need to obtain the approval of the General Inspectorate for Immigration to make an application for a long-stay visa. Once you are approved, you can apply for your long-stay (D) visa at the National Visa Centre. Be advised that there will be a fee of €120. There is further information at the General Inspectorate for Immigration website.
After you enter Romania, you must obtain your residence permit from the General Inspectorate for Immigration. A temporary residence permit for the purpose of studying does permit you to be employed in Romania without needing to apply for a separate work permit. However, your employment contract must be for part-time work, and you may not work any more than 4 hours per day.
Living in Romania while receiving an exportable UK benefit like the State Pension may entitle you to state healthcare funded by the UK. You will be required to apply for an S1 certificate, but be advised that there are different rules in terms of healthcare cover for different exportable benefits.
The S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare, and if you currently have one it will remain valid after Brexit. Apply through the Business Services Authority
As explained in the previous section, you will need to apply for a short-stay (C) or long-stay (D) visa if you wish to live in Romania for an extended period of time. They both permit you to stay for 90 days, but the long-stay visa enables you the option to have your stay extended within the final 30 days.
If you want to apply for a Romanian visa, you can do so by visiting the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. They also provide information on eligibility and what’s involved in the application process, so read up about the details before attempting to apply. If you have lived in Romania continuously for 5+ years, you are entitled to apply for a long-term residence permit, which remains valid for 5 years if granted.
As you can see, the healthcare system in Romania is not unlike what we are used to in the UK. However, if you are heading there for a short visit you should ensure you take the necessary steps to access the healthcare during your stay. If you are relocating to Romania to work, live or study, there are certain requirements for you to fulfil. Don’t neglect to do what’s needed to get you access to healthcare whilst you are in Romania – your health is paramount, and if something goes wrong you need to ensure you will get the care you need.