Health Insurance

Health Insurance for Expatriates in Russia

Welcome to our country guide page providing economic, healthcare and health insurance information to expatriates living in Russia.

Russia, known as the Russian Federation, has both Asian and European borders and is the largest nation in the world. Russia’s capital is Moscow. Other major cities in the country include St Petersburg, Volvograd, Ekaterinbourg and Sochi. Sochi hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic games in 2014, will host for the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix until 2020, and will also be the host city for the World Cup in 2018.

russia

Russia was the world’s ninth largest economy by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 62nd in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking in the same year. 

Russia in numbers:

Area 17,098,250.0 sq km*
Popoulation (total) 143,819,569*
Expat population 746,580**
Life expectancy 65 years for men and 70 years for women

*World Bank.

** Russian Federal Migration Service

A useful summary of country information and data on Russia can be found here.

Healthcare in Russia

Russia has a free health service, available to all Russians and paid for jointly by the government and contributions from paid workers. The healthcare system is not of a particularly high standard and it would be difficult to find English speaking doctors. Every long term resident (over three months) is issued with a health card which must be provided prior to receiving care. Healthcare is only available free to foreign nationals with residency if a reciprocal agreement exists between the country and Russia.

A number of different types of clinics provide medical care in Russia:

  • Health Posts – based in more rural areas and providing basic medical care
  • Health Surgeries – where some minor operations are carried out and there is access to paediatricians and midwives
  • Urban Polyclinics – where specialist consultants would be available e.g. cardiologist or oncologist
  • Specialised medical hospitals – providing a wide range of services and emergency care

Private medical insurance in Russia

Private medical insurance is advisable for non-nationals in Russia and fully comprehensive cover is preferable, including emergency care and repatriation.

Most private healthcare facilities are situated in Moscow, St Petersburg and Leningrad and most will have English speaking medical staff. The cost of healthcare is on a par with that found in Western Europe.

Dental Care needs to be paid for by all residents, so it is recommended that private insurance includes dental cover.

Important health information before you go

You should be up to date on routine vaccinations and some may also be required for travel.

Routine Vaccines

Make sure you are up to date on routine vaccines. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio, and your flu injection.

Hepatitis A

CDC recommends this vaccine because you can contract Hepatitis A through contaminated water in Russia, regardless of where you are staying.

Japanese Encephalitis

Depending on what time of year you are travelling, you may need this vaccine if you are visiting certain remote areas of Russia for more than a month, or if spending a lot of time outdoors in those areas during a shorter trip. Your doctor can help you decide if this vaccine is right for you based on your travel plans. See more in-depth information on Japanese encephalitis in Russia.

Rabies

Although rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Russia, it is not a major risk to most travellers. CDC recommends rabies vaccine only for the following groups:

  • Travellers involved in activities that put them at risk for animal bites (such as adventure travel and caving)
  • People working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers)
  • People taking long trips or moving to remote areas in Russia
  • Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck
  • FOR TRAVELERS TO CAUCASUS REGION: CDC also recommends rabies vaccine for travellers involved in other outdoor activities (such as camping, hiking, and biking) and most long-term travellers

Source: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

Prescription drugs

Pharmacies are usually available in most towns and cities and some are open 24 hours. There are also pharmaceutical kiosks in large supermarkets. Drugs that are available only with a prescription in Western Europe and other countries may be available over the counter in Russia. Very few pharmacists speak English except in the specialist facilities. Medicines can be expensive and not always available so it is worth researching the availability of specific drugs prior to your departure.

Health checks

It is advisable to have a thorough health check-up in advance of moving to Russia to detect any potential health problems. You can arrange regular health checks at most private medical centres.

Taking care of any special needs

If you are an expatriate and you or a family member has an existing or special health condition, you will need to determine if and how it can be adequately treated in Russia.  Regulations and care for those with physical or mental disabilities can vary greatly. It is vital to find out about any potential barriers from the outset. Wheelchair access to outlets including shops and restaurants is limited.

The first point of contact should be your consulate or embassy or ask your insurer if you hold an international health insurance plan.  

Food hygiene in Russia

Food hygiene is generally of a good standard in Russia with a government body Rosselkhoznadzor responsible for enforcing hygiene and food safety laws. There is a good selection of restaurants to suit all tastes although it is worth learning key phrases especially when it comes to avoiding allergies or to order vegetarian dishes.

Tap water is not considered safe to drink in Russia including in Moscow. It is recommended that water is boiled or filtered water used.

Medical Emergencies

103 is the emergency number to call in Russia if you require an ambulance.  Police are 102 and fire service is 101. It is advisable to carry a health card or medical insurance card with you at all times.

Healthcare Facilities

The main private healthcare facilities in Russia are listed below. All will have advanced technology and access to a variety of specialist consultants. The European Medical Centre has four clinics in Moscow all offering specialist care and English speaking medical staff.