Healthcare System in Croatia

updated on
July 12, 2022
Healthcare System in Croatia

When speaking generally, healthcare in Croatia meets international, European standards, with well-stocked and functional hospitals located in all major cities and towns within the country.

For healthcare, the main role plays Croatian Ministry of Health that manages health care legislation, budget for the whole system, monitors health needs of the entire population, and proposes and supervises the reforms of the healthcare system in Croatia.

Healthcare in Croatia is publicly owned and centralized - the state owns the hospitals and county governments own the medical centers. Besides the public hospitals, there are also many private (and specialized) Polyclinic’s that are becoming increasingly popular.

Let’s dig in to find out everything important about the healthcare system in Croatia, how it works, how to use it, and what to expect out of it so you are safe and healthy in 2022, while in Croatia.

Understanding The Healthcare System In Croatia

Croatia’s healthcare works on a basic principle – its healthcare system provides mandatory insurance (called “obavezno osiguranje”) to all the people. This insurance is basic health insurance that is required by law and falls under the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (known as “HZZO” or CHIF).

The healthcare system in Croatia is not free – all Croatian residents are required to participate in the health care costs in different ways. If you are employed – your employer pays the healthcare insurance, self -employed citizens are also obligated to pay health care contributions, if you are enrolled in the Uni the state covers the costs, etc.

For sure, there are specific groups of people that are excluded from paying health care contributions and they are:

  • Children under the age of 18
  • Retired people and persons with low income
  • Children of dependents that are incapable of living and working independently
  • Croatian residents that are incapable of independent life
  • Family members of dead or missing Croatian armed forces members
  • Disabled members of Croatian armed forces
  • Persons suffering from certain diseases, when health care services are being rendered due to complications caused by those diseases (e.g. malignant diseases or chronic mental illnesses).

Of course, besides the mandatory insurance provided by the government and practiced in public hospitals all Croatian citizens have the option to go to private health care providers.

You can do that either by paying directly or through supplemental insurance which is covering the payment.

There are some important things to stress out here – some health care services are not free of charge in Croatia, even if you have mandatory health insurance.

These cases are:

  • Plastic surgery
  • Birth control
  • Abortion
  • Experimental treatments

How The Croatian
Healthcare System Works

The Healthcare system in Croatia is pretty simple and it all starts with a general practitioner (family doctor)/GP which everyone needs to have.

Your GP is your first stop if you plan to use public health insurance and he or she is the one that will appoint you to the next, more specialized doctors, hospitals, check-ups, tests or anything else you may need.

Why is that necessary? Well in order to see a public hospital, diagnostic, or some special treatment you need a referral from your family doctor.

This referral is called in Croatian “uputnica” – this piece of paper (used to be in paper version now is digitalized!) allows you to go to further treatments in secondary or tertiary healthcare services if needed.

This also enables you to access hospitals and polyclinics free of charge.

Using The Croatian Healthcare System If You Are A Foreigner

Temporary stay in Croatia

If during your temporary stay in Croatia you need a healthcare service you don’t need to worry. If you are insured in another EU/EEA State or Switzerland, healthcare services will be provided in the same way as to the insured person of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

During your temporary stay in Croatia, you are entitled to the necessary or emergency health care, based on the European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC) or a Provisional Replacement Certificate of the EHIC.
By all means, it is possible to utilize healthcare services in private healthcare facilities, as well as with private physicians in Croatia - however, the total costs of using private healthcare services are totally up to you.

Residency/permanent stay in Croatia

if you have a permanent residence in Croatia and you have your healthcare already realized at the expenses of the health insurance in another Member State of the EU/EEA or Switzerland you will use the Croatian healthcare system in the same way as any other insured person in Croatia.

Employed and self-employed persons, as well as cross-border workers

If you have a permanent residence in Croatia and you are employed in a company in another Member State of the EU/EEA or Switzerland or if you are self-employed in one of these mentioned countries – the mandatory health insurance status should be regulated in the country of employment/self-employment.

But, due to your residency in Croatia you have the right to full healthcare in the country – the only thing is that the cost will be carried by the institution for health insurance in the state of employment/self-employment.

Your sole obligation is to have an S1 certificate or the equivalent form E106 („Certificate on the right to receive benefits in kind in case of illness and motherhood for persons residing outside the competent state“).

This form or certificate must be delivered to the regional or branch office of the CHIF, based on your place of stay.

Persons temporarily employed in Croatia

If your company, which has HQ in another EU/EEA Member state or Switzerland refers you to Croatia for temporary employment, and you have acquired residency in Croatia, you are entitled to apply for the issuance of an S1 certificate or E106 form from the respective insurance. Issued certificate/form like mentioned above needs to be delivered to the regional office of the CHIF in the place of residence in Croatia. Based on it, you will be entitled to full healthcare services in Croatia.

What To Expect Out Of The Croatian Healthcare Structure?

Whatever you’ve heard you should not be worried - the healthcare system in Croatia is providing its services under all European standards. Primary health care and emergency medicine are high quality and available in all parts of the country, but keep in mind that accessing specialized healthcare services outside major cities can be somewhat reduced.

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