What kind of healthcare is available in Estonia?
In Estonia you can have two types of health care systems: public and private. The public is provided by Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF; Haigekassa in Estonian) which you receive if you have an employment contract in Estonia and your employer is paying social taxes on you.
The Estonian health insurance system is a solidarity-based social insurance system. This means it provides healthcare for everyone. Estonia is quite covered by health care and treatment is equally available in all regions.
Private insurance you can get from some of these companies:
Who is eligible for the Estonian health insurance?
All Estonian residents who work and whose employer pays the required social tax on them automatically get Estonian health insurance (after registering their place of residence in Estonia).
The health insurance also includes the right to receive benefits for temporary incapacity for work.
People automatically covered by the Estonian health insurance, are:
– pregnant women,
– children and young adults up to the age of 19,
– old-age pensioners,
If you are self-employed, you have to pay your own social tax from which 13% is transferred into health insurance.
What if I am not eligible for the Estonian health insurance?
All people living in Estonia with a temporary residence permit must be covered by insurance during their entire stay. If you are not eligible for EHIF state insurance, you must purchase it from a private provider. ERGO and Salva are companies in Estonia, but also international providers such as Swisscare and Cigna can be purchased.
It is also possible to purchase the health insurance from EHIF, but only if you have been insured by them for 12 months within the past 2 years or if someone else who meets this criteria buys the insurance for you.
How can I visit a general practitioner / get a family doctor?
Everybody in Estonia has a right to choose a General Practitioner (GP). This physician (also called a family doctor) will become your first person to consult when falling ill. In most cases, GP referral is also required to access the specialist doctor.
Firstly, you need to select a General Practitioner (family doctor), and there are two ways to do it:
- Call the Estonian Health Board (Terviseamet): (+372) 650 9843. They will be able to assist you in finding out which doctors are in your area.
- Or get the information and select family doctors directories, their size and service areas through the Estonian Health Board’s registry (in Estonian).
NB! You can only register yourself with a General Practitioner at a public clinic when you have registered your place of residence in Estonia. You can register with a General Practitioner in a private clinic without being an official resident in the country.
Secondly, once you have selected a General Practitioner, you need to register by submitting an application (“Avaldus perearsti nimistusse registreerimiseks”) to the selected clinic (either in person, by mail or via e-mail). You can download the forms in English and in Estonian, but the form needs to be submitted in Estonian! English version is just for reference.
You must submit a separate form for each family member. It will be reviewed within 7 working days, after which you’ll be notified whether you got accepted to the doctor’s directory.
NB! A doctor may decline if their directory is full or if you don’t live in the doctor’s service area. Don’t worry, though – in this case just apply to another clinic.
If you have questions of whether a selected GP directory is full, you can get information by calling the Health Insurance Fund’s Information line: 16363. More information is also available on the website of the Health Board.
For unexpected or minor health issues you can contact the advisory line for General Practitioners by dialling 1220, and it operates 24 hours a day. The cost of the calls is at a standard rate and assistance is provided in Estonian and Russian.
What is the hospital network like?
There are 19 main hospitals in Estonia which are funded by the EHIF (Health Insurance Fund). There are also over 20 private hospitals which have different levels of agreements with the state for providing services.
All the following hospitals are state-financed. This means when you’re insured by the Estonian health insurance, your treatment will be subsidised:
There are four central hospitals in Estonia. They provide outpatient and inpatient health services in almost all fields of health.
Kohtla-Järve – Ida-Viru Central Hospital (Ida-Viru Keskhaigla)
Pärnu – Pärnu Hospital (Pärnu Haigla)
Large hospitals (regional hospitals)
Large (regional) hospitals provide outpatient and inpatient health services in all areas of activity.
A regional hospital is not required to provide outpatient and inpatient health services in the areas of activity which are provided in the same region by another regional or central hospital.
Besides central and regional hospitals, most counties or smaller towns also have general hospitals that provide health services in that region.
Private hospitals & clinics
The advantage of private healthcare lies in shorter waiting times for seeing specialists. In private hospitals and clinics you have to pay for the services yourself. You should also check whether your private insurance might cover some of the fees.
For finding a suitable private clinic ask for recommendations from your friends and your GP or search online. Some of the clinics that also have English websites, are:
Fertilitas – private hospital in Viimsi, near Tallinn;
Qvalitas – private clinics around Estonia;
Elite – private clinics in Southern Estonia.
Where can I receive emergency care?
Everyone in Estonia has the right to receive emergency care. Emergency care is provided also to persons who are not covered by health insurance, in this case cost are paid by the state.
Emergency rooms are located at hospitals. The East Tallinn Central Hospital at Ravi 18 is the closest A&E in central Tallinn.
Where can I find a pharmacy?
In Estonia, medicine is mostly sold in pharmacies. All Estonian pharmacists have a relevant qualification, so they are competent to give necessary advice.
Antibiotics or specific medicine is sold with prescription only. General medicine is prescription free.
Pharmacies are located in all shopping centres and their opening hours are generally between 10 am and 9 pm. There are also 24-hour emergency pharmacies in all areas; the one in central Tallinn is located at Tõnismägi 5.
A list of pharmacies with opening hours and contact information can be found on the medication information website Ravimiinfo.
How can I visit a dentist?
There are many dental clinics in Estonia offering services from orthodontics to dental surgery. You can find a list on the website of WhatClinic.
In most cases, dental care is not covered by the national health insurance, however, there is an exception to children and young people of up to 19 years in age. Also, from July 2017 adults covered by the health insurance plan can apply for a small compensation (up to 30 euros) for dental care if the care is received at one of the dental clinics that have a contract with the Health Insurance Fund.