Healthcare guide for expats moving to Russia

The Russian healthcare system has seen some difficulties, in particular linked to a lack of funds. Today, healthcare in Russia remains below the standard of other industrialised countries: there is a lack of medical equipment, differing standards of care depending on the medical establishment, shortfalls in primary care etc. The well-reputed hospitals in Moscow or Saint Petersburg do not offer all services (e.g. contagious illness and maternity complications are not treated).

In the public sector, English speaking doctors are few and far between. In order to see an English speak doctor it is advisable to seek treatment at a private clinic, however fees in the private sector can be high.

For these reasons, expatriates are advised to have a medical insurance in order to enable them to be treated in private facilities abroad.

Health statistics

  • Total Population: 142,834,000
  • Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2013): 23,200
  • Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2013): 63/75
  • Infant mortality per 1000 births (2012): 10
  • Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population, 2013): 339/126
  • Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2013): 1474
  • Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2013) 6.3
The Russian healthcare system

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the health of the Russian population greatly declined (the levels of tuberculosis, cancer, and heart disease are among the highest in industrialised countries). The government has therefore undertaken a succession of reforms since the mid-1990s and the health statistics have been improving.

The most important reform was the introduction of a national healthcare system, made compulsory in 1996. It offers healthcare to Russian citizens, as well permanent and temporary residents.

This system covers: primary care, preventative care, emergencies (except for specialised emergencies such as air ambulance), and specialised care in all public medical establishments. However, some services are not offered, such as dental, prosthetics, rehabilitation and convalescence, as well as prescribed medicines. In order for these to be covered you would need to sign up to a private health insurance.

The structure of health services

In Russia, there are no private surgeries and all practitioners see their patients in either a clinic or a hospital.

The administration of the health services is divided into different levels: federal, regional, and municipal.

  • Health posts: run at a municipal level, they offer out-patient treatment: routine check-ups, vaccinations, and the treatment of non-serious accidents.
  • Health centres: with teams of nurses, gynaecologists, paediatricians, and mid-wives; these establishments are usually specialised in maternity and also basic routine surgery. They are also usually run by the local municipality.
  • Urban polyclinics: these are regional establishments, offering a wide-range of services: screening, treatment of chronic conditions, follow-up care. Depending on their size they may even have on-site specialists (cardiologists, oncologists, obstetricians etc).
  • Specialised medical hospitals: usually found in large cities, these establishments offer all medical services and are open 24 hours a day. Federal hospitals represent 4% of the number of beds available within the public sector.
International Health Insurance

An international health insurance is the most suitable type of medical cover for an expat. It offers the freedom in your choice of doctors or medical centre, not only within Russia but in many other countries. If you prefer to be treated in your home country or in another country, within your zone of cover, your medical costs will be reimbursed by your insurance company (within the limits of your policy). Moreover, if you leave Russia and move elsewhere your international insurance may be able to follow you.

It is always important that your medical insurance complies with local legislation. If you are a permanent or a temporary resident in Russia, an international insurance will not replace your obligation to subscribe to the local system. The international cover will act in addition to the State provided cover.

If you would like to insure yourself and your family more fully, Expat Assure can also advise you on life insurance and income protection. To find out more, please read our Protection page.

Which expat insurance should you choose?

We can help you decide which international health insurance or protection plan is best suited to your needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us to request your insurance comparison.
Overview of medical costs

The cost of a consultation with a GP or a specialist is generally around £86 (120€). In the international private clinics this fee may increase to around £122 (170€).

The cost of a consultation with a dentist is around £58 (80€). A crown can cost anything between £287 and £1,006 (400€ – 1,400€).

In regards to an overnight stay in a private hospital, charges are usually around £431 (600€) for an individual private room.

Practical information

Be sure to have your immunisation schedule up-to-date (diphtheria/tetanus/polio). However it is also recommended to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and rabies by the NHS Fit-for-Travel website.

Emergency numbers
01: Fire brigade
02: Police
03: Ambulance
04: Gas leak

Be aware, counterfeit medication is a big problem in much of Russia. According to the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over 70% of medicines sold in Russia today are either counterfeit or of low quality.

Useful links
UK Embassy – Moscow


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