Healthcare for Travellers to Romania

Romania is fast becoming a popular tourist destination for those looking for a holiday off the beaten track, or for winter sports holidays with a difference. Romania joined the EU in 2007, and as such the arrangements which grant EU citizens healthcare across the EU apply for UK citizens visiting there. However, it is important to understand what the public health service in Romania comprises, and whether you would be better taking out comprehensive travel insurance before leaving home.

EHIC in Romania

EHIC is the name given to the healthcare agreements between the EU countries. In order to be eligible to seek medical treatment in Romania while visiting, you have to apply for cards online before leaving home. The EHIC will only give you the same rights as a Romanian for accessing healthcare provision, and will not cover private care. Healthcare in Romania is more basic than we are used to in the UK, and the hospitals may not have the same standard of equipment as at home, especially in more rural areas. In Romania, it is also assumed that the patient’s families will help out with basic nursing, personal care and will provide food. Healthcare is not free – the Romanian government has a system of co-pay, where patients are asked to contribute for medical tests and required medications. The Romanian health service is under considerable strain, and there have been reports of patients being asked to buy their own syringes or latex gloves. There are also reported problems with bribery and corruption, so it is critically important to get receipts for all payments and detailed invoices. Senior doctors in larger hospitals in Bucharest may speak English, doctors in smaller towns will probably not. Emergency dental treatment is provided free of charge, and you will have to pay towards any medication which your doctor prescribes.

Private Healthcare in Romania

The Romanian state healthcare system is poor by Western European standards, so if you are planning to visit, it is very wise to seek out a good travel insurance policy, which would cover treatment in a private hospital. There are many private hospitals and clinics in Bucharest and other large towns, with English speaking staff and modern equipment. If you fall ill and need hospital attention in Romania, check first that your insurance company will cover the cost of your treatment. Large private hospitals in Romania have extensive experience in dealing with insured patients, and this should not cause you any problems. Accessing a private hospital will get you a high standard of nursing and medical care, a single room in most cases and will cut out all of the delays and inconvenience associated with the public healthcare sector.

Most travel insurance policies will cover all medical emergencies, and will also meet some dental costs. Check the policy wording carefully if you are travelling with anyone who has pre-existing medical conditions or if you are planning to ski while visiting the country. The Romanian healthcare system is not in a good state at present, and if you want to guarantee a good level of care, there is no substitute for proper travel insurance.