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Healthcare in Ukraine: Where to Get Medical Services

Last update: Aug. 14, 2010 (created)

Ukraine's healthcare system consists of a state-run medical establishment providing free or low-cost healthcare and numerous private clinics providing generally better service at higher cost. The private healthcare insurance industry plays much less of a role than, say, in the United States.

Healthcare for foreigners

Emergency medical insurance
Foreigners are encouraged to buy emergency healthcare insurance from UkrInMedStrakh (or Prosto Strakhuvannya) for the duration of their stay in Ukraine. In some cases — for instance, in order to register with the OVIR — this insurance is mandatory. Fortunately, the it is not terribly expensive (roughly $100 USD for one year). The insurance card includes a 24-hour hotline with English speaking staff, and the procedure for determining what sort of thing constitutes an "emergency" seems to be fairly lenient. For instance, the author received a free check-up for a bad cold, as well as a knee X-ray for a minor knee injury from backpacking. However, after the initial visit you may have to pay for subsequent treatment, and definitely for most medications.

Read more about this emergency medical insurance

Standard free state healthcare
Theoretically foreign residents can obtain free healthcare at clinics associated with their place of temporary residence, but this might be restricted to foreigners who are registered with the ZHEK and have a propiska, or registered address. This typically includes those who are in Ukraine for studies, legal employment, or permanent residency. Some foreigners will find service through standard state channels to be sub-standard, especially if complex medical procedures are necessary. Furthermore, there will be much more checking of documents.

Private clinics
Fortunately, Ukraine has plenty of private clinics where one can get adequate healthcare with fast service, very little waiting, and no documents. You can just walk in and schedule an appointment. These clinics are generally oriented towards the middle class (think "70 to 95 percentile"). Here are some prices that seem to be fairly representative of Kiev in summer 2010 (given in USD):

$19 - Visit to a general (family) doctor with an initial examination
$36 - house visit of general doctor with initial examination
$13 - Follow-up visit in office
$19 - Visit to a gynecologist with an examination
$9 - Applying stitches to a wound (price per stitch)
$11 - Local anesthesia
$13 - Thyroid ultrasound
$5 - TB fluorography
$11 - Back X-ray
$9 - Certificate of health allowing you to visit swimming pools
$6 - General blood test
$4 - General urine test

It is important to find a clinic and doctors that you like. You can generally find a good clinic and good doctors by talking to friends or by looking for reviews online (in Russian or Ukrainian). The author has had very positive experiences so far with patient doctors willing to spend quite a bit of time with their visitors. It does not feel like a conveyor belt like in the overbuilt, overly bureaucratic U.S. healthcare system. Paperwork is quick and easy. You'll need to each speak fluent Russian or Ukrainian or go to the doctor with a friend who does. Many doctors know some English, but probably very few are in a position to talk to you in English.

VIP clinics
This includes the American Medical Center and similar clinics where patients pay American prices for English-speaking staff and the very latest hi-tech equipment.

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