Like other European Union member countries, Estonia has a well-developed public health system coordinated by a national health ministry. The health ministry is responsible for defining goals and strategy for better health; it monitors the performance of health care providers and regulates as necessary. The quality of medical care in Estonia continues to improve but still falls short of Western standards. Estonia has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. The World Health Organization’s June 2000 assessment of health systems ranked Estonia 77th of the 191 WHO member countries in overall performance.
Many emergency room staff and nurses speak only limited English. Elderly travelers and those with health problems may be at increased risk.
Visitors from EU countries or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before traveling to Estonia, as to any other EU country. The card is available free of charge from the traveler’s national health authority. Presenting the card at the time services are needed allows the traveler to be received on the same basis as a citizen of Estonia.
Travelers from non-EU countries must take out traveler’s insurance to be reimbursed for use of Estonian state health programs.
For consultations with a doctor and for medications, payment is normally required up front. It is important to save all receipts for reimbursement. Hospital visits, on the other hand, may or may not be paid for directly by your insurance policy; be sure you know before you travel.
Locating a Doctor
Embassies and consulates generally maintain lists of physicians, dentists, and medical facilities for the benefit of travelers. Also, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) maintains a database of fully licensed, English-speaking doctors around the world. Office visits are available to IAMAT members at fixed rates advertised on the website, www.iamat.org.
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