From 1 January 2024, children of all foreigners (so even those with a non-EU passport) with long-term residence permits will move from commercial to the public health insurance system. Unlike commercial insurance, the public system has no limits for medical coverage and does not exclude treatment of preconditions.
You might have already heard of this significant change in Czech law. It comes after years of NGOs advocating for the rights of foreigners, and after a petition started by foreigners themselves, which has been finally heard by the Czech parliament.
This is no small change for the children and their parents. And it is mandatory. This overview explains the transition and its aftereffects, and answers the most pressing questions.
- Who is the new rule for?
- What options will you have after 1 Jan 2024?
- When should I apply?
- How do I move my child to the public health insurance system?
- What happens if I register my child later?
- How much will it cost? How often will I have to pay?
+ Health insurance and residence permit renewal:
- What if my current commercial health insurance expires sooner than 1 Jan 2024?
- What if the expiration date of my current commercial health insurance overlaps 1 Jan 2024?
Note: Please, bear in mind that this law is still in the making. As much as the information included in this text is gathered from official channels, it might still be subject to small alterations before it becomes active on 1 January 2024. We are monitoring the development and will inform you of any important updates.
1] Who is the new rule for?
The law transfers all children younger than 18 years of age with a long-term residence permit out of the commercial health insurance system and into the public health insurance system.
Be aware – it will be mandatory for these children to be in this system, not a choice. Once their current commercial health insurance contract expires, it is your obligation to enroll your kids into the public system. The monthly fee will be roughly 2 700 CZK (this is an estimate, the amount has not yet been published by the government, read more below), it is the same for all children and the parents have to make sure to pay it regularly.
Only children carrying a long-term residence permit (typically for the purpose of reunification of a family) are eligible. Those carrying a short-term visa for up to one year (typically for family purposes) or any EU-related residence permit are not subject to this change.
2] What options will you have after 1 Jan 2024?
After this law is put into effect, you, the parents, will have a selection of 7 official health insurance companies to pick from. They are VZP, VOZP, ČPZP, OZP, ZP-Škoda, ZPMV, RBP. You can, but do not necessarily have to, register your kids at the same company where you yourself are insured.
However, since this insurance package is state-controlled, the coverage is the same at all 7 companies.
What differs is their benefit system. Each company has a unique set of benefits to attract customers (more free check-ups at the dentist, contributions to medical equipment, etc.). Check the options and decide which benefits are the most useful for you.
3] When should I apply?
When does your child’s current commercial insurance expire? Depending on that date, there are two ways to act:
A) Before 1 January 2024. It’s impossible to register your kid for public insurance before 2024, even if you asked for a delayed start (meaning: if you asked in November 2023 that you want to register your kid starting in Jan 2024). You have to extend your commercial health insurance to 31 December 2023 (or better yet, with a buffer to 31 January 2024), and then apply after the end of the year to switch to the public system.
B) Later than 1 January 2024. The deadline for registering your kid into the public health insurance system equals the expiration date of your commercial insurance + 8 days. You will also have to prove to the new health insurance company that your kid has indeed had commercial health insurance since January 2024.
Example: if your kid’s commercial health insurance ends on 30 April 2024, you will only have to register them starting on 1 May 2024, but you will have to provide the company with proof (typically an insurance contract) that the kid was insured between 1 January 2024 and 30 April 2024.
4] How do I move my child to the public health insurance system?
Note: As of now, we only have the following information confirmed by two health insurance companies, namely ZPMV a ČPZP. However, it has been suggested that the practice will be the same across all insurance companies. We are monitoring the development.
Once your child becomes eligible (once their current commercial health insurance contract expires), it will be your task as parents to register them into the public system. You will have 8 working days to do so. Once again, to do so is mandatory.
It’s easy. You simply contact the health insurance company of your choice and pay them a visit. You bring your child’s birth certificate (to prove that you are their parent. Birth certificates of countries other than the Czech Republic will need official Czech translation) + yours, as well as your child’s, valid long-term residence permits.
The clerk will fill up a form with you and give you a paper confirming that you have successfully enrolled your child into the public health insurance system. This paper will be replaced by an insurance card (typically within three weeks). The card will be delivered to your Czech home address.
Note: Your kid will receive the green health insurance card. This card serves as proof that your child has health insurance. Carry it with you at all times (older, responsible kids are allowed to carry it themselves). Also, be careful, this card is only valid in the Czech Republic. If you go abroad, you have to obtain travel insurance for your kids.
5] What happens if I register my child later?
If you miss the deadline by a few days, it is not a big issue.
If you don’t act for more than a month after your child becomes eligible (= after their current commercial health insurance contract expires), you might end up in trouble. The presence of your child in the public system is mandatory and if you don’t register them there in time, you will start collecting debt from the unpaid months. Also, your child won’t be covered, which is problematic from both legal and medical perspectives.
6] How much will it cost? How often will I have to pay?
The cost is expected to be around 2 700 CZK a month.
(The exact amount has not yet been published. But it’s calculated on a daily basis from a minimal salary. This means that it is the same amount as people without taxable income pay, which in the year 2023 is 2 336 CZK/month. It is expected that this number will rise in the year 2024. We will inform you when the exact amount is known.)
As for the frequency of payments, parents will pay monthly and for each child separately. It is expected that these payments will be done by bank transfers.
And now, to the questions concerning health insurance and residence permit renewal:
7] What if the current commercial health insurance expires sooner than 1 Jan 2024?
If your child’s residence permit expires before 1 January 2024 and you’re about to start the process of its renewal, you will have to provide your child with commercial health insurance for the remaining months of 2023.
However, since the registration of your kid in the public health insurance system is mandatory in 2024, to renew the residence permit now, the Ministry of Interior does not demand proof of health insurance for any time in the year 2024. You can just buy commercial insurance for the last two months of 2023, then re-register your kid in January 2024 and start paying for the public one.
It’s not yet clear if you’ll have to deliver any proof of providing public health insurance to MoI subsequently in the year 2024, but in any case, it has no impact on the renewal of your child’s residence permit. In the year 2023, the residence permit will be renewed for the period, for which your kid is eligible, based on other criteria (up to two years).
Note: We highly recommend you obtain commercial health insurance for at least the whole month of January 2024 though. It will create a bumper zone and you will avoid troubles, should there be any delay from your side (even if there were just too long queues in the health insurance company’s offices at the beginning of 2024).
8] What if the expiration date of the current commercial health insurance overlaps 1 Jan 2024?
If you are about to start a process of renewal of your child’s residence permit and you have provided them with commercial health insurance expiring only after the given date of 1 January 2024, you do not have to think about this change of law until your commercial health insurance expires. Example: if your kid’s commercial health insurance ends on 30 November 2025, you will only have to register them starting on 1 December 2025. You will, however, have to prove to the new health insurance company that your kid has indeed had commercial health insurance since January 2024.
Also since the registration of your kid in the public health insurance system is mandatory after the expiry date of their current commercial health insurance, to renew the residence permit now, the Ministry of Interior does not demand proof of health insurance for any time in the year 2024/25. You can just let the commercial insurance expire in the year 2024/25, then re-register your kid into the public system and start paying.
It’s not yet clear if you’ll have to deliver any proof of providing public health insurance to MoI subsequently in the year 2024/25, but in any case, it has no impact on the renewal of your child’s residence permit. In the year 2023, the residence permit will be renewed for the period, for which your kid is eligible, based on other criteria (up to two years).
One last recommendation from us:
Take advantage of the full access to public health insurance and ask your chosen insurance company for a list of pediatricians or any other doctors you have been struggling to find for your child. Read our guide on how to find a doctor.
Fingers crossed and have as smooth a transition as possible!
Photo courtesy of canva.com