Your insurance company must find you a doctor. Hold them to it.
If they don’t manage it, or don’t give it a fair try, you can report them to the Ministry.
Having trouble finding a GP?
You might have been lucky and found a general practitioner in the Czech Republic easily. Most expats would describe a different experience, though, and some Czechs would, too.
They make calls, write emails, and all they get is another rejection because the tenth doctor they have decided to try has also reached their full capacity of patients. Often, they’re rejected with the recommendation to contact their health insurance company. But the only help they get there is a list of doctors who they are once again supposed to contact themselves.
And the circle begins anew.
This practice is not correct. Your health insurance company is obliged to find you a doctor by law. Providing you with a list of possibilities does not sufficiently follow this law. The Ministry of Health has recently confirmed that. To support their claim, the given authority has published a detailed guide on how to look for a doctor correctly. This is the content of this guide, translated to English:
How to find a doctor: a guide published by the Ministry of Health
Who is responsible for providing health care?
The health insurance company you are registered with.
What exactly is the health insurance company responsible for?
The so-called local and temporal availability of health care. In simple terms: that the doctor/medical facility is close enough to your place of residence.
What legislation does the insurance company follow?
Government Regulation No. 307/2012 Coll., on temporal and local availability of health services. The information listed there is binding for insurance companies.
How to find a doctor?
Contact your health insurance company by phone or in person. Alternatively, visit their website.
What should you ask at the insurance company and what can the insurance company ask you?
By phone or in person:
Tell the officer that you cannot find a doctor (GP, dentist, etc.) in the place where you live. Have your identification data (e.g. your health insurance number, date of birth, etc.) prepared as it will be used to prove your identity to the officer.
On their website:
Find a contact email and write your request. Include your identification data (e.g. your health insurance number, date of birth, etc.) in the text.
Websites of some insurance companies also contain a link to the National Registry of Health Service Providers. When using it, you can filter your search to a specific location and specialization of the doctor you are looking for. (it’s only in Czech, though, and doesn’t contain information about the doctor’s ability to communicate in English.)
The official wording of the guide (in Czech) is available here.
What if your insurance company doesn’t try/manage to find you a doctor
Next to the guide above, the Ministry suggests a suitable reaction, should your health insurance company be not willing to cooperate. If you had contacted the insurance company and they had not helped you, it is possible to file a complaint on a special form.
The form is available here. It is in Czech, Ukrainian and Russian only, but you can use Google Translate when working on it.
Do not file the complaint if you’ve been provided with the list of doctors somewhere in the past, before reading this article. If you’re searching for a doctor, try to follow the steps described in the Ministry’s guide first = contact your insurance company anew. In other words, the complaint must be based on a recent case.
Please, understand that filling up this form doesn’t mean that the Ministry will help you find a doctor instead of the health insurance company. The point of it is that it will be collected and used as evidence, to develop collective pressure on the given companies so they fulfill their legal duty to the fullest.
Let’s create pressure
In conclusion, it’s evident from the statement of the highest Czech authority that it’s indeed your health insurance company who is supposed to ensure the accessibility of health care. When looking for a doctor, follow the given steps and, if unsuccessful, file a complaint so the Ministry can create pressure on the insurance companies.
Moreover, you should pressure them, too. Don’t just accept the endless list of doctors, inform your insurance company about their legal duty and be assertive when trying to get what you have the right for.
One person might not change the companies’ faulty approach, but if the voices of all Czechs and expats get combined, it’s much more likely that they will be heard.