Prague offers a wide selection of opportunities for making the lives of foreigners and visitors healthy. This article will help you navigate important decisions like choosing a physician, finding a 24-hour pharmacy, preparing for childbirth or acquiring health insurance.
Any third-country nationals living in the Czech Republic for three months or longer must have health insurance. Proof of comprehensive health insurance with a firm registered in the country is required for a long-term visa. A permanent resident or an official employee of a Czech company can join one of the public health funds. The main provider of public health insurance in the Czech Republic is Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna (VZP). Public health insurance covers public hospital stays, emergency care, visits to a general practitioner, vaccines, twice-yearly dental exams, and prescription meds. Most private clinics and hospitals do not accept public health insurance. Health insurance payments come directly from your wages. If you have a business licence, your insurance is paid at tax time. If you have neither permanent residence nor employment, you must buy commercial insurance. VZP is just one of many providers that offers private health insurance for foreigners.
Doctor visits, including lab work, should be free and prescriptions are inexpensive. Asking for recommendations or paying a visit to your local medical complex – each Prague district has one – is the best way to choose a GP. The most important factor in your decision should be whether or not a doctor will accept your insurance. GPs’ offices used to not make appointments – it’s first come, first served – but this is starting to slowly change. In every case, most early-morning hours (e.g. 8 to 10 a.m.) are dedicated to urgent patients without appointments. Your GP can provide information about specialists and arrange appointments on your behalf. If you prefer a Western approach to medicine or require an English-speaking physician, private clinics that cater to foreigners are an option. Many of them offer a number of medical and dental services under one roof. Basic Czech health insurance may not be accepted by private clinics and doctor visits can be very expensive (in relation to the local wages).
Na Homolce (www.homolka.cz) Pediatric Department is a favourite among foreigners living in Prague. The walk-in clinic is open weekdays, with emergency services available on weekdays, weekends, and public holidays. Doctors and staff speak English and basic Czech health insurance is accepted. Many expat parents seek recommendations and register with their local pediatrician when they arrive or before a child is born (if giving birth here), as many hospitals require parents to fill out a form giving pediatrician details. Immunization schedules are fairly consistent with those of Western countries. If you are looking for more attentive service with a private approach, CMC (Canadian Medical Care) is a good choice.
Prescriptions, like doctor appointments in government-run facilities, are fairly inexpensive. Over-the-counter medications such as analgesics, cough syrup, and medicated ointments and creams, must be purchased at a pharmacy. Some stronger over-the-counter drugs (like antibiotics) may even require a prescription in the Czech Republic. At each pharmacy you will find a counter for prescriptions (výdej na recept) and one for non-prescription medication (výdej bez receptu). Medication with a prescription is subsidized, whereas medication without a prescription is not, and the patient must pay the full cost.
Hospitals usually designate one section of the hospital for “Urgent Care”. If the illness is not life-threatening, it’s often best to contact your doctor’s emergency hotline instead. Your physician can mediate between you and the hospital. The Foreigner and Private Patient Department at FNMotol (www.fnmotol.cz/en/) specializes in emergency care (for children and adults). The best facilities for burn patients are at FN Královské Vinohrady (www.fnkv.cz).
In an emergency, call 155 from any phone. Or you might call the general EU phone line 112 (even from a mobile without a sim card).
First Aid & Hospitals
In case of a non-urgent emergency, doctors and/or hospitals can be contacted directly. The hospitals at Na Homolce and Motol are the most foreigner-friendly, with special departments for foreigners and English-speakers. Motol Hospital also has a department dedicated to care for children with short- and long-term medical needs, and is able to provide translators and information in English.
Even if you do not have Czech health insurance, in emergency situations, a hospital will not turn you away — but your insurance company may not want to foot the bill. If you have Czech insurance or a European Health Insurance Card, you will have to pay 60 CZK per day in hospital. If you do not have either of these you are exempt from the 60 CZK fee. Health insurers often prefer that you be treated in a state hospital as it is cheaper. In case of non-urgent emergency, doctors and/or hospitals can be contacted directly. Na Homolce and Motol are the most expatriate-friendly hospitals, with special departments for foreigners and English-speakers. Motol is able to provide translators and information in English.
Nemocnice na Homolce (Prague 5)
Nemocnice na Františku (Prague 1)
Poliklinika Palackého (Prague 1)
Všeobecná fakultní nemocnicv Praze (Prague 2)
Fakultní Thomayerova nemocnice s poliklinikou (Prague 4)
Nemocnice Podolí gynekologie a porodnice
Fakultní nemocnice v Motole s poliklinikou (Prague 5)
Fakultni s poliklinikou (Prague 5)
Fakultní nemocnice Královské Vinohrady (Prague 10)
Prague 1, Palackého 5
Prague 2, Belgická 37
Prague 4, Thomayerova hospital, Vídeňská 800
Prague 5, Štefánikova 6
Prague 5, Hospital Motol, V Úvalu 84
Prague 6, Vítězné nám. 997/13
Prague 7, Fr. Křížka 22
Prague 8, Bulovka Hospital, Budínova 2
Prague 10, Plaňanská 573/1
Dentistry practiced in the Czech Republic is of the same high standard as in other western countries (like the rest of the EU, US, Canada) and the prices are quite reasonable. Similar to the medical industry, if money is no object, you will find excellent private clinics in Prague that accommodate English as well as other foreign-language speakers and will perform cosmetic treatments as well as standard dental care. But once you’ve paid your mandatory medical insurance, it may be more practical to go to a local dentist in your district who accepts VZP and OZP, and speaks “OK” English. A basic dental check-up in the Czech Republic does not include cleaning — if you want this service you’ll be referred to a hygienist and may pay out of pocket. You will also have to pay extra for dental anesthetic before having your teeth drilled.
It is good to know that most dentists are very busy and all appointments should be made well in advance. Fortunately a large number of private dentists will most likely squeeze you in, even with a booking with short notice.
Dental Clinic (Zubní), Prague 1, Palackého 5
Dental Clinic (Zubní), Prague 4, Pacovská 31
Sexual Health & Contraception
STD (pohlavní nemoc) treatment is free for the insured; otherwise it can be pricey. Buy condoms (kondomy) at pharmacies, drugstores and supermarkets. The pill, Depo-Provera, hormonal implants, and intrauterine devices can be prescribed by gynecologists. Pharmacies sell pregnancy tests (těhotenský test). Doctors can prescribe the morning-after pill, called RU-486 (the abortion pill), which has been legal since 2014. Abortions are legal and can be performed until 12 weeks of pregnancy, but are only covered by insurance if the mother is at risk. Prostate cancer screening isn’t standard until age 50; if you’re at risk, discuss with your doctor.
Typically affiliated with a particular hospital or clinic, ob/gyns are unable to care for their patients anywhere else. Choosing a hospital — you must register at week 14 — limits your choice of obstetricians and vice versa. Meet with your ob/gyn for prenatal check-ups once a month and, later, once a week, until week 36, when you’ll visit the hospital for check-ups until delivery. VZP (the main health insurance company) covers prenatal visits, ultrasounds, glucose intolerance test, the 3 test, and neonatal care. Many expats hire an English-speaking doula. Preferred expat maternity wards: Podolí, Krč, Motol, Bulovka, Apolinář. After a non-complicated birth, you’ll stay in the hospital 3-4 days; 5-6 days following C-section.
Unless you have public health insurance, your travel insurance or residence commercial insurance might not cover your childbirth. Special insurance products covering this might be quite expensive.