Healthcare in Latvia

One of the smaller Baltic states, Latvia has become an increasingly popular city break destination in recent years, and the country’s economy has attracted significant investment from UK companies. Whether you are heading over to Latvia to study, on holiday or on a business trip, it’s sensible to be prepared for every eventuality. This means understanding both the benefits and limitations of the EHIC scheme, and taking out comprehensive travel insurance.

EHIC and Latvia

The European Health Insurance Card is the result of an arrangement between countries in the European Economic Area, and means visitors from the UK who have applied for their cards in advance can access the Latvian state medical service. Healthcare in Latvia is run by central government, and their website has regularly updated information in English for travellers.

Healthcare in Latvia is of a high standard, but outside main cities finding English speakers might be tricky. Using EHIC entitlement, UK citizens can see Latvian GPs, be referred to hospital, be treated as an emergency admission and have a range of diagnostic tests. Unlike the NHS, these services are not free, and a small patient contribution will have to be paid for each item. The fees are low; ranging from 1.5 euros for a GP visit to 10.00 per night in hospital or 35.50 euros for a MRI scan. UK residents will have to pay these charges. If you do have to have tests, surgery or other procedures, the total amount charged will not be more than 355 euros. Many hospitals will only accept euros in cash, not credit cards or foreign currency. Always keep invoices and receipts as you might be able to claim back charges from a travel insurance policy.

Prescription medicines are subsidised by the Latvian health service, but you will be expected to contribute. Dental treatment, even in an emergency, is not covered by the Latvian state and the full cost of any treatment will have to be paid. Always agree prices in advance when thinking of having dental treatment in Latvia.

Medical Cover on a Travel Insurance Policy

Having access to medical cover on a travel insurance policy may allow you to choose which doctor you would prefer to see, and access treatment more quickly. Most of the private clinics and hospital provision is in Riga, the capital city, and in smaller towns the state system may be the only option. Riga has a booming market in medical tourism, with foreigners attracted by high standards and low prices for cosmetic procedures. Although cosmetic treatment is rarely covered by travel insurance, the developing market means there are more English speaking doctors and a growing number of clinics and hospitals. In addition, having medical cover through your travel insurance may allow you to claim back any contributions you are asked to pay to access the state system and it may also allow you to rearrange flights home or pay accommodation costs for someone to stay with you while you recover.