Are you someone starting a new adventure, passing through, or on vacation? Whatever the answer, we warmly welcome you to Estonia.
When we visit a new place, we think of all the exciting times ahead. But we get there and things don’t go according to plan.
We get sick, or we have an accident — or even worse, everything is perfect and then disaster strikes, your kid picks up a disease or falls ill. Suddenly, we’re dealing with something scary in a place we know nothing about.
We’ve put together this article on 5 things you need to know about healthcare in Estonia when you’re here as a foreigner.
What Kind of Healthcare Can You Get in Estonia?
You have access to two types of healthcare systems here in Estonia – public and private.
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) is provided to you if you have an employment contract in Estonia and your employer pays social taxes on you. See the full list of people who are eligible for state insurance.
If you’re visiting Estonian from another EU member state with medical insurance, then you are eligible for free public healthcare treatment provided that you have:
- A European Health Insurance Card or certificate; and
- Valid identification.
Healthcare you pay for yourself can come from private health insurance, private clinics, or telehealthcare providers like Salu.
All expats with a temporary residency permit must be covered by insurance. If the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) does not cover you, you must purchase insurance from a private provider.
Alternatively, you can enter a voluntary insurance contract with the Health Insurance fund and pay premiums if EHIF does not cover you.
Read more about the healthcare options available here: Primary Healthcare Providers in Estonia.
How to Find Doctors Who Speak Your Language?
Although there are doctors here in Estonia that can provide healthcare in Estonian, English, and Russian — it is not a requirement for them to speak a second language.
In Tallinn, few doctors are willing to take on foreign patients because they do not have the resources to cater to English-speaking patients. This is because doctors have a moral responsibility and cannot rely on translation tools such as Google Translate to provide services.
We’ve asked among our own family doctors — there’s maybe about a dozen family doctors in Tallinn who have space on their rosters and would be willing to accept foreigners as patients.
If you need to find a doctor who speaks English or Russian, here are some tips to help you out:
- Ask other expats on forums or Facebook groups for advice;
- Check out guides on how to find an English-speaking family doctor in Estonia;
- Look for information provided by your embassy or other English-speaking embassies in Estonia, such as a list of medical facilities provided by the British Embassy; and
- Use telehealthcare providers like Salu who can get you in touch with a professional medical team who speaks your language from the comfort of your own home.
Where to Find Hospitals in Estonia?
The last thing you want during a medical emergency is to use Google Maps to try and find the relevant hospital you need.
There’s nothing wrong with knowing exactly where to go in advance. Especially since you might go to your nearest hospital with severe headaches, only to find out you’re at a maternity center. To get you started, here’s a list of hospitals around Tallinn that are worth knowing about:
- East Tallinn Central Hospital (a general hospital offering a wide array of services)
- West Tallinn Central Hospital Emergency Medicine Department (a general hospital offering a wide array of services)
- North Estonia Medical Centre Foundation (a general hospital offering a wide array of services)
- Pelgulinna Hospital (offers vaccinations, infectious disease treatment, dental care, and more)
- Keskhaigla Sünnitusmaja (specializes in maternity care and pediatrics)
- Tallinn Children’s Hospital (specializes in the care of children and adolescents)
- Pelgulinna Maternity Hospital (specializes in maternity care and pediatrics)
If you need to go to the ER, here is a list of ERs in Estonia:
- Põhja-Regionaalhaigla ER (Tallinn & Harjumaa)
- Ida-Tallinna Keskhaigla ER (Tallinn & Harjumaa)
- Lääne-Tallinna Keskhaigla ER (Tallinn & Harjumaa)
- Tallinn Children’s Hospital ER (Tallinn & Harjumaa)
- Tartu Kliinikum ER (Tartu & Tartumaa)
- Rapla Haigla ER (Raplamaa)
- Narva Haigla ER (Ida-Virumaa)
- Ida-Viru Keskhaigla ER (Ida-Virumaa)
- Pärnu Haigla ER (Pärnumaa)
- Viljandi Haigla ER (Viljandi maakond)
- Läänemaa Haigla ER (Haapsalu & Läänemaa)
- Rakvere Haigla ER (Rakvere & Lääne-Virumaa)
- Põlva Haigla ER (Põlvamaa)
- Järvamaa Haigla ER (Järvamaa)
- Hiiumaa Haigla ER (Hiiumaa)
- Saaremaa Haigla ER (Saaremaa)
- Jõgeva Haigla ER (Jõgevamaa)
- Valga Haigla ER (Valgamaa)
- Lõuna-Eesti Haigla ER (Võrumaa)
How to Get a Prescription in Estonia?
Being that we’re in E-Estonia, you can bet that your prescriptions are digital, too — family doctors in Estonia can issue EU digital prescriptions.
After a consultation with a doctor, they may prescribe you medication digitally. To collect your medicine, you will need to go to a pharmacy with a valid form of ID and give them your ID code (if you’re using your temporary residence permit document, this won’t be necessary). If everything goes according to plan, you’ll get your medicine — it’s that simple. Read more about prescription drugs in Estonia here.
All prescriptions are digital. Only in exceptional circumstances will a doctor issue a paper one.
If you’re abroad, don’t have EE ID with you and need a top-up on medication, be sure to take you passport with you just in case a drivers license isn’t accepted in that country.
Alternatively, using a service like Salu will allow you to speak to a medical professional who will be able to issue you a prescription.
What to Do if You Can’t Find a Doctor?
The majority of healthcare in Estonia is provided and paid for by the state via Estonian Health Insurance Fund. However, to access this fund, you need to be:
- Employed with a contract for at least one month; or
- A permanent or temporary resident paying premiums into voluntary insurance.
- And even if you do fulfill one of these requirements, there’s a huge shortage of doctors (especially English and Russian-speaking ones). Then you have to deal with arranging appointments, wait few days until the doctor is ready to see you, traveling to a doctor’s office, and a lot more inconveniences. If your back is against the wall, it’s time to embrace technology.
Look for telehealth care providers like Salu, Minudoc, or others which can provide you with online consultations. Learn more about telehealth care services and other primary healthcare providers in Estonia.
For example, Salu is a web-based healthcare solution that puts users in touch with a pool of medical professionals, all ready and available to provide you with any services that you may need — online and offline.
Salu provides visitors and expats to Estonia access to network of qualified medical professionals who speak English, Russian, and Estonian, at an affordable price starting from €11.90 a month. Once you’re signed up, simply consult a medical professional who can answer over 90% of your health-related questions from the comfort of your own bed. Salu professionals can provide you with:
- Online or in-person consultations;
- Sick leave;
- Offer vaccinations;
- Organize health-related documentation;
- Organize lab tests and analysis;
- & so much more.
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