Healthcare in Romania is universally free for those working in the country, but it may not be up to the standards that expats have come to expect in their home countries.
Owing to structural problems, the country has been dealing with a mass exodus of medical professionals and the quality of care in government facilities is sub-standard. Hospitals in Bucharest and other cities are better equipped, but supplies in small-town hospitals are limited.
Most common over-the-counter and prescription medications are available in Romania, but expats who prefer a specific brand should bring a supply with them, as generics may be the only option in Romania.
Stressful conditions and low salaries mean that bribery is common among the nurses and doctors who do stay in the country. Patients often give medical staff gifts or money in exchange for better service. That said, this is less likely to occur in the private sector.
Public healthcare in Romania
Public medical care in the country is managed by the National Health Insurance House (NHIH), which provides free or subsidised care to all Romanian residents, including expats. Those working in Romania will have their public healthcare contributions automatically deducted from their salaries.
Many expats find that the standard of public healthcare in Romania is inadequate. Public medical facilities tend to be understaffed and have outdated equipment. Long waiting times to receive treatment are another common complaint.
During short visits, EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access public healthcare in Romania, provided it was issued in another EU country. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.
Private healthcare in Romania
Private healthcare is an ever-expanding industry in Romania. Private hospitals are the best option for expats looking for world-class healthcare in Romania, while private clinics are a good option for less serious conditions. Private medical facilities are usually restricted to urban areas and staff are typically well-trained and can usually speak English.
Patients at private hospitals are usually expected to pay for medical services in cash and then claim back from their health insurance company afterwards.
Health insurance in Romania
In order to be issued a visa, expats moving to Romania need to have private medical insurance. This should provide comprehensive cover and allow patients to use private facilities.
As public facilities aren't up to the standards of most Western countries, it is recommended that expats ensure that they are covered by an extensive private health insurance policy when moving to Romania.
Pharmacies in Romania
Pharmacies are available throughout Romania. They can be found attached to some hospitals and should stock most medicines. Expats should be aware that medications available over-the-counter in their home country may be prescription-only in Romania, and vice versa.
Emergency services in Romania
A complimentary emergency service is available in Romania and is called SMURD (Serviciul Mobil de Urgenţǎ, Reanimare şi Descarcerare), which translates to Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication. It deals with serious emergencies and can be reached by dialling 112.
Emergency response times can vary depending on the area in Romania. In some cases, and if possible, it might be faster for patients to make their own way to medical treatment facilities.