Health Insurance considerations for expats in Russia

<p><strong>General</strong></p>
<p>The Russian healthcare system has seen major improvements in recent years both in technologies and pharmaceuticals. Moscow has a number of western medical clinics which are spread out over the city. When visiting Russia it&rsquo;s advisable to bring a good supply of any prescription medicine needed.</p>
<p>Unless it&rsquo;s absolutely necessary it is not recommended to go to a local hospital without first contacting your insurer. If this is not possible you should ensure that you are accompanied by a fluent Russian speaker and that you have enough money to guarantee admission, if medically necessary.</p>
<p>Many medications that require a prescription in your home country can be purchased over the counter in Russia. However in most cases the manufacturer is different and therefore the drug is identified by a different brand name. It&rsquo;s a good idea to know the generic name of your drugs if you think that you are going to have to re-stock locally.</p>
<p><strong>Vaccinations</strong></p>
<p>Currently Russia has no vaccination requirements but it is a good idea to keep your shots up to-date.</p>
<p>The following vaccinations are recommended for people travelling to or living in Russia for longer periods of time:</p>
<p>Hepatitis A<br />Hepatitis B<br />Typhoid<br />Tick-Borne Encephalitis<br />Rabies</p>
<p><strong>For Expats</strong></p>
<p>A reciprocal healthcare arrangement operates between the UK and Russia. This gives British nationals free treatment in a Russian hospital, much as the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) works across the EU and nearby states. However the FCO warns that any treatment you receive is likely to be very limited.</p>
<p>The common view is that private medical insurance with emergency evacuation cover is essential for any expatriate outside the large cities in western Russia. There are very few adequate facilities outside the capital except in Leningrad. Expats working in the east of the country &ndash; many in the oil and gas industries &ndash; are evacuated to Japan and China in a medical emergency.</p>
<p>According to AXA PPP treatment is private and foreign operated facilities is good but expensive. The best treatment available is in Moscow and Leningrad. Expatriates tend to travel outside of Russia for anything other than routine care. Standards within the public healthcare system vary greatly, especially in the more rural areas.</p>
<p>Bupa International launched in to the Russian market in 2009. They have had a number of members treated in Moscow and have found good clinical services. Problems that have been reported are standards of service, language difficulties and costs. Reports from Moscow and other parts of the country mention widespread corruption. A practice of carrying out a wide range of tests on patients is deeply embedded in Russian medical tradition.</p>
<p><strong>Health Risks</strong></p>
<p>Tuberculosis is a well recognised health hazard in Russia especially for those living in crowded, damp accommodation. As well as potentially lethal TB, food poisoning, rabies and tick-borne encephalitis are also health risks. Cases of Rabies have increased in Moscow. Tick-borne encephalitis occurs in rural and wooded areas in the summer months. It leads to severe headaches, neck stiffness and seizures and may prove fatal. Health advice from the FCO is not to drink tap water anywhere in Russia. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is about five times the UK rate. According to the WHO bbout 1% of Russia&rsquo;s adult population is infected.</p>

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