To be insured for medical expenses is not only a legal obligation in the Czech Republic, but also a life necessity. Each foreigner who wants to stay here for more than 3 months must be medically insured.
There are two types of health insurance – public and commercial, as explained in our new infosheet.
As the public health insurance is a public service not intended for the Czech government profit, it is of a much better value for your pocket, as well as security for your health. There are basically no limits for the coverage of the medical expenses and the insurance company cannot cancel your insurance or refuse to extend it.
This is different with the commercial health insurance. This insurance is not under such strict public control and gives insurance companies more room to benefit from the people insured. The monthly premium could be less than with the public insurance, but the coverage has lower limits at the same time. The doctors have more difficulties keeping the cost of medical services under the limits, and there is more paperwork too. The biggest risk with the commercial health insurance is that the company can ditch the policy holder when he/she becomes too expensive and not extend the insurance when requested.
Therefore it would be more convenient to be covered by the public health insurance. Unfortunately, current legal frame doesn’t allow all foreigners to do that, even though there is a strong lobby from NGOs working with expats to extend the public health insurance to all foreigners without exception.
Who can enter the Czech public health insurance?
All foreigners with an EU passport, whether economically active – employed, freelancing or running a business – or not. EU citizens just have to prove they reside in the Czech Republic and are not insured in any other EU country. Then they receive a blue European Health Insurance Card – EHIC – valid for necessary health care all around the EU.
Foreigners from outside of the European Union can enter the public health insurance system only if they 1. are employed with an employer registered in the CR, 2. have a permanent residency status, 3. are applying for or are granted international protection (asylum). This public insurance green card is valid for the Czech Republic only.
In other words, all foreigners from outside of the EU with a long-term visa or residency who are not employed and foreigners with a temporary residency of an EU-citizen family member have to purchase a commercial health insurance. When staying longer than three months, the insurance has to be so called comprehensive or complex, i.e. including, for example, child immunizations, some preventive care, pregnancy, and childbirth.
Foreigners can choose which insurance company to go with and change it every 12 months. There are 7 public health insurance companies and 5 commercial insurance companies. The insurance policy, coverage, limits, and benefits are different for every company. It is good to shop around and not go with the cheapest or first company at hand. Your health is the most valuable asset.
For a more specific guideline how to register for the insurance, how to choose the right insurance company and policy and how to pay the insurance premiums, download the BEC infosheet on health insurance here.
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