Guide to Health Insurance in Russia

If you are planning on travelling to Russia, relocating there or are just looking to change your international health insurance provider, it is very important to know what options are available to you in terms of health insurance, and the state of the healthcare in the country in general.

Russia is the largest country in the world and has a population of over 140 million, and a life expectancy of 62 for males and 74 for females. This life expectancy is low for a developed nation (10 years lower than the EU average), and despite the poor healthcare system, sociocultural factors such as alcohol consumption are known to be a significant cause of this. The World Health Organisation’s 2000 World Health Report placed the Russian healthcare system at 130th in the world.

Healthcare facilities

Before the 90’s, Soviet Russia employed a socialist universal healthcare system that was free for all citizens, with every medical professional employed by the state. The subsequent healthcare reforms enacted a part-public, part-private system which was supposed to increase open-market competition and promote fair choice, increase efficiency and promote the development of primary care, but in reality the reform actually made things worse, with decreasing efficiency, little competition between providers, and a confusing system in general.

Aside from Moscow, St Petersburg and Leningrad, there are few adequate hospitals and related facilities, and outside of Moscow good care seems to be available only privately. Hospitals generally suffer from a lack of resources, supply shortages, long waiting times, and poor facilities. A lack of care is especially the case in rural areas, and in Eastern Russia, emergencies usually involve evacuation to China or Japan.

For UK expats there is a reciprocal agreement which is similar to how the European Health Insurance Card works, granting free treatment. Expats should expect medical treatment to be limited however, and private medical insurance with evacuation cover is essential for anywhere in Russia away from the large cities.

Before you go

You are advised to check with your medical practitioner eight weeks prior to your trip to see if you require any vaccinations and preventatives. Disease threats include Hepatitis A and B, Polio, Tuberculosis, Typhoid and Japanese encephalitis. Never drink tap water. Always take the necessary precautions.

Next steps

You can get a quote for one of our WorldCare plans to cover your stay in Russia, with WorldCare treatment access available anywhere in the world. You can purchase and manage your plan online – it's an easy and quick way to get comprehensive cover.

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