If you’re an expat who recently moved to Estonia, congratulations on starting your new adventure. Moving somewhere new is an exciting (and stressful) time as you prepare to make the move. You need to find a place to live, scope out the local businesses and restaurants, and find events to meet new friends. The list of things you need to do is endless.
But, with all this planning and daydreaming, new arrivals to Estonia tend to overlook something crucial they need to set up. Getting registered with a family doctor. It’s something you need to do sooner rather than later. What happens if, in your excitement, you fall ill? You’ll prolong your recovery as you desperately try to find a doctor.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help expats and holidaymakers navigate the healthcare in Estonia and find English or Russian-speaking doctors while they’re here in Estonia.
Need help? If you need to get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible, you can use our easy-to-access primary healthcare solution and get an online consultation in minutes. Learn more about Salu.
How does primary healthcare work in Estonia?
In Estonia, we have the Estonian Insurance Health Fund. If you work in Estonia, chances are this insurance covers you. This means that a visit to your family doctor is free, and a trip to a specialist is €5. Interestingly, if you visit a private healthcare provider, assuming they have a contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, the fund might also cover those services.
That’s assuming you can get on the patient list of a family doctor. Their capacity is limited, and the competition of people trying to get registered with a family doctor is high — even more so for English-speaking doctors in Estonia. Either way, not sure if the Estonian Insurance Fund covers you. You can find out by visiting eesti.ee or calling +372 669 6630.
But what if you’re not working in Estonia? What if you’re just passing through, here on business, or taking a vacation? If you’re from an EU/EEA country with insurance back home, your insurance is perfectly valid in Estonia following these requirements:
- You have your EU Health Insurance Card; and
- You have a valid form of ID.
Now you know how the primary healthcare system works in Estonia and the Estonian Insurance Health Fund, how do you find yourself a family doctor and get a consultation?
How Hard is it to Find an English-Speaking Family Doctor in Estonia?
When it comes to finding an English or Russian-speaking family doctor in Estonia, the prognosis is not good. Foreigners in Estonia face a real struggle in finding an English-speaking doctor. Not just for foreigners but natives too. In 2021, 48% of family doctors were over 60, with 64 years old being the retirement age in Estonia.
It’s as if Estonia, much like expats arriving here, forgot to focus on its health care in its excitement of setting itself up as the first digital nation. It’s a challenge trying to find an English or Russian-speaking doctor because there simply aren’t many here. So, what do you do if you need to see a doctor sooner rather than later? Given that everything else in Estonia is digitalized, it only makes sense that e-healthcare is the solution to this problem.
What Are Your Options?
With so many of us scrambling to get seen by a family doctor, what exactly can you do?
To ensure the well-being of you and your family, you can either:
- Find an English or Russian-speaking doctor the traditional way — join the queue (it could take months) and, as life has shown, quite possibly have your application declined
- Get private health care insurance — which may cost an arm and a leg
- Use new and convenient digital healthcare providers — such as Salu
Salu: A personal medical team in your pocket
Salu is an all-in-one primary healthcare service for expats and their children, available seven days a week, ready to solve your problems by getting you in touch with a medical professional that speaks your language (English, Russian & Estonian). All of Salu’s doctors are highly qualified professionals from well-known & top-rated local clinics.
Salu provides all the same services as a general practitioner but with the added benefit of avoiding the searching, traveling, and endless waiting associated with a trip to the traditional doctor. With this headache-free alternative, simply open your phone or laptop, select your preferred method of consultation, describe your problem or ask a question, add a photo if necessary, and get expert opinions right there and then. Salu family doctors can provide you with everything you need, including:
- Online or in-person consultations;
- Sick leave;
- Offer vaccinations;
- Organize health-related documentation;
- Organize lab tests and analysis;
- So much more.
As of September 2022, Salu has launched a new package called Salu+. It includes all the listed services, plus they can get you signed up with an English or Russian-speaking family doctor.
The cost for the package is €14.90 per month.
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