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If you’re planning a trip to Slovenia or are looking forward to a longer-term stay, you will need to make plans to ensure you can access healthcare services. Countries across Europe operate according to different kinds of healthcare structures, and you cannot expect to freely access the kinds of treatments that the NHS provides free of charge. We’ve put together a short guide to healthcare in Slovenia so you can avoid hefty treatment costs in the future.
What to do if you’re visiting Slovenia
First of all, it is important to note that anyone who travels or relocates to Slovenia must register with their local police service within three days of arrival. If you do not do this, you will be fined. Fortunately, most guest houses and hotels will register you while you are checking in. If you are staying with friends or using a self-catering service such as Airbnb, however, you will need to register with the police yourself.
What to do in emergency situations
If you are faced with a serious or life-threatening medical emergency, you will need to call 112. The number does not cost anything and will also allow you to access the fire brigade and police services.
In emergency events, ambulance transportation is free of charge. In cases where a doctor cannot confirm that ambulance transportation is needed, however, the patient will have to cover 90% of transport costs.
Visitors staying with a hotel or who have opted for a travel representative may ask them to call medical services if needed. However, if you want to be treated in line with state healthcare provisions, be aware that they may summon private help. If you want to receive non-private care, you should call 112 and request that the ambulance transport you straight to the closest state hospital.
Receiving Slovenian healthcare before Brexit
Rest assured that emergency medical attention is given to anyone that needs it. However, if you do not own a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you will be expected to cover the full cost of any care you receive.
At the moment, the EHIC gives UK nationals free emergency treatments by Slovenia’s state medical care, including hospital admissions and necessary surgeries. In non-emergency situations, an individual will be expected to cover at least a portion of the cost of their care, as well as the costs of prescription medicines and dental treatment. However, the EHIC also provides UK nationals with access to state-offered healthcare services at a low price or, if you will be there for a short while, for free.
Those without an EHIC card will need to purchase enough travel insurance to cover the costs of potential medical treatments in Slovenia. Remember that you will need to retain paperwork and receipts related to your treatments, as they may be needed by insurance companies.
There are a few services that an EHIC will not cover including mountain rescue services, transportation back to Britain after treatment, cruises, and private healthcare.
Again, remember to double check that your hotel and travel representative does not find private healthcare to address your needs, as you will not be able to claim money back.
How does the healthcare system in Slovenia work?
Slovenian citizens can access healthcare that is covered by their compulsory health insurance. This is regulated in line with national laws and is administered by HIIS, the country’s single insurer. In this way, Slovenia’s healthcare structure is totally based around insurance and all of the country’s citizens must make compulsory contributions.
Any Slovenian residents that are not insured by the country’s healthcare insurer or do not possess an EHIC must purchase private medical cover. Third country nationals that do not possess insurance are unable to take advantage of the non-emergency healthcare provided free by the state.
People that do not possess medical insurance and need basic healthcare are able to access treatments at special outpatient clinics for people that do not possess insurance.
How long will you be covered by an EHIC?
In Slovenia, coverage under an EHIC only lasts for 90 days. In this way, UK nationals hoping to live or work there for extended periods of time will need to abide by certain insurance and residency processes. Doing so will provide them with the same healthcare entitlements enjoyed by insured Slovenian residents.
What to do if you suffer from a pre-existing medical problem
Those with pre-existing health conditions will need to purchase medical insurance before heading to Slovenia. Naturally, the onus will be on you to inform the insurance company about your health problems so that they can provide with the requisite level of coverage. Your EHIC card may suffice up until Brexit takes place. At present, it is unclear whether it will work after this date.
It is a good idea to talk to your GP about any pre-existing conditions before heading abroad, as well as packing any important documents and medication related to the issue.
What to do if you need dental work
Unfortunately, dental procedures that are not an emergency are not insured by an EHIC in Slovenia and you will need to cover the cost of your care.
What to do if you need hospital treatment
As with many other countries in Europe (including the UK), patients needing hospital treatment are usually referred by their doctor. Again, if you are hoping to receive free medical care, ensure that you are taken to a state-run hospital and remember to bring your EHIC with you. It is also important to ensure that you will not be treated as a patient under the private system.
With an EHIC, you are not required to supply details regarding your travel insurance to hospitals or healthcare clinics.
The distinction between private and public services
Some primary state healthcare is offered by a combination of private and state and providers. Facilities that qualify as state providers may include healthcare centres owned by the local community, whilst private providers can include individual healthcare specialists operating alone or in practices that offer a mixture of different specialities and services.
Patients insured under HIIS can pick which primary care facilitator they would like from those that share a contract with the organisation, and possess the right to switch after 12 months. Patients are able to select a private physician if they desire but are required to cover the costs.
Hospitals and private health clinics provide tailored outpatient treatment, whilst ambulatory treatments are offered by hospital-affiliated polyclinics, private specialist offices, or community health facilities.
Specialists in certain fields are also able to take on part-time roles in state and private health centres, according to civil laws.
There are a number of private polyclinics in Slovenia, some of which have concessions with the HIIS and (depending on the terms of their contract) are paid with out-of-pocket payments or in social insurance schemes.
An EHIC cannot cover private services, so individuals will have to ensure that they are looked after by a medical facilitator that is contracted by the HIIS. To see the full list of healthcare providers contracted by HIIS, visit the HIIS website.
What to do if you need a prescription
Slovenia’s single insurer – HIIS – charges for prescriptions according to a comprehensive list of what it terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ medicines. ‘Positive’ medications will be subsidised at a rate of 70%, whilst ‘negative’ products will need to be paid for in full.
EHIC holders that have not yet reached retirement age will be charged at a rate of 50%, whilst pensioners will be charged around 10%. The latter will also have to confirm that they are in receipt of a British State Pension so that they can benefit from the reduced rate.
Considerations for taking your personal medications to Slovenia
Be careful if you plan to take medication that falls under the control of the UK’s Misuse of Drugs Act, as they will be subject to strict legal controls. Indeed, you may be required to secure a licence before being allowed to take these medications abroad.
A number of special measures may apply to the way in which you carry and transport controlled medications and the kinds of information you will need to carry with you. Full information on controlled substances can be found at the UK Government’s website.
What happens after Brexit?
If the UK exits the European Union without agreeing to a deal, then access to medical treatments for British visitors to Slovenia will probably be affected. If you plan on visiting the country after Brexit, you will need to purchase travel insurance in the same way as if you were travelling to a non-EU country. If you currently rely on an EHIC card, this will be valid until the moment that the UK has left the European Union.
The level of medical cover you receive will vary depending on the insurance package you select.
At the moment, the UK’s government is trying to reach an agreement with states such as Slovenia so that UK nationals will retain easy access to healthcare in these place after Brexit.
What to do if you’re going to Slovenia to work
Remember that UK workers in Slovenia will need to go to their local police service to register within three days or face a fine.
Healthcare provisions before Brexit
If you plan on working in Slovenia, you will make regular national insurance payments and will be entitled to the same state-owned medical provisions as a Slovenian citizen.
If you plan on working in the country for more than three months, you will need to register with a nearby Administrative Unit. To do this, you will need to fill out and submit an application in order to receive a registration certificate prior to the expiration of your three-month stay. As an EU citizen, you will be able to request this kind of certificate as soon as you have entered the country.
A residence registration certificate can be issued for the purposes of work, service provision, self-employment, study, and the reunification of family members. They may be renewed after five years if needed, or the recipient can make an application to stay in Slovenia permanently.
If you have been posted to work in Slovenia by a British company, you will likely be able to claim UK-funded health coverage. To find out whether this applies to you, get in touch with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
What happens after Brexit?
After Brexit, you will need to obtain a ‘first temporary residence permit’ before you can even enter Slovenia. Once this has been done, you will need to make more applications for residency depending on how long you need to stay or whether you aim to gain permanent residency. You can file an application at your closest Slovenia consulate.
If you make national insurance payments to the country, you will gain access to free or discounted state medical care. Depending on whether you have been posted by a British company, it could be required that you obtain extra healthcare insurance to ensure all of your requisite treatment costs are covered.
What if I am a pensioner?
What happens before Brexit?
In the lead up to Brexit, recipients of an exportable British Pension or Employment Support Allowance based on contributions will be able to access state healthcare that is covered by the British government. To prove that you are entitled to this care, it is required that you apply for S1 certification.
Applying for an S1 certificate
S1 certificates provide pensioners and their dependants with access to necessary healthcare services in Slovenia. Such certificates will remain valid in the period leading up to Brexit but it is unclear whether this validity will remain after the UK has left the European Union.
If you have worked and made contributions to the UK in the past or have received some UK-provided benefits, for example, you may be able to take advantage of S1 certification. Applications for an S1 certificate must be made via the Business Services Authority. More information about S1 certificates and the different kinds of exportable benefits can be found on the UK Government’s website. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also offers a wealth of information regarding the kinds of Slovenian and UK benefits available to British citizens that live in Slovenia.
What happens after Brexit?
Once the UK has left the European Union, Slovenian citizenship may firstly be obtained by origin. In other words, the applicant must prove that her or his parent(s) were Slovenian citizens when he or she was born. Citizenship can also be obtained by naturalisation. This means that they will have had to have lived in the country for a certain number of years and must meet a number of other conditions required by law for citizenship to be granted. Once you have obtained citizenship, you will be able to access the same healthcare provision as other citizens of Slovenia.
What if I’m studying in Slovenia?
UK citizens taking a course of study in Slovenia can use their EHIC up until the time that Britain leaves the European Union. After that time, they will need to purchase the same kinds of healthcare insurance as they would if they were travelling to a non-EU state.