AVAILABILITY OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
In accordance with the legislation of Latvia, the state guaranteed medical services in Latvia can be received by (1) citizens of Latvia, (2) non-citizens of Latvia, (3) the citizens of EU and EEA countries and the citizens of Switzerland who stay in Latvia due to employment or as self-employed persons, as well as the members of their families, (4) the foreigners with permanent residence permit in Latvia, (5) the refugees and the persons who have been granted an alternative status, (6) persons detained, arrested and sentenced with deprivation of liberty.
The foreigners who arrive in Latvia from a country which is not the member state of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and stay in Latvia on the bases of temporary residence permit (hereinafter in the text referred to as the foreigners), including children, cannot receive the state guaranteed medical services! This group of the foreigners have to pay themselves for the health care services and/or they have to use the private medical insurance!
However, the spouses of Latvian citizens and Latvian non-citizens who have a temporary residence permit issued in Latvia have the right to receive free of charge the care for pregnant women and birth assistance paid from the State basic budget.
Free medical advice by phone in Latvian, English and Russian is available to ALL RESIDENTS, REGARDLESS OF THEIR IMMIGRATION STATUS. This service is provided by the National Health Service (NHS). This service is available on weekdays from 17:00 to 8:00 and on weekends and holidays - around the clock. To use this service, call 66016001. More information on this service can be found on the NHS website http://www.vmnvd.gov.lv/lv/nvd-pakalpojumi/gimenes-arstu-konsultativais-talrunis-66016001
AVAILABILITY OF EMERGENCY AID
The foreigners and their children, who come to Latvia from a country, which is not a member state of the EU or EEA or Switzerland, and have a temporary residence permit for staying in Latvia, have to pay for emergency aid services or the expenses have to be covered by the health insurance company, in which the person is insured.
The exceptions are citizens of Ukraine and Russian pensioners who can receive emergency aid free of charge according to the intergovernmental contractual agreement.
To call for emergency aid in Latvia, dial 03 or 112!
To receive emergency aid, you may be asked to present your health insurance policy.
In order to be able to present your policy to a doctor in case of necessity, please take it with you!
HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
In-patient and out-patient health care services in Latvia are ensured by the state, municipal, private institutions and self-employed doctors. The state determines the minimum requirements for medical institutions and regulates their activity. Private health care institutions offer patients greater freedom of choice of services.
The health care system in Latvia can be divided into three levels:
(1) Primary health care. At this level the patient has the primary contact with the provider of health care service. The primary health care service is provided by general practitioners, paediatrists, nurses, doctors’ assistants, mid-wives and dentists. The provider of primary health care service can be independent (private) service provider or they can work for private or public out-patient health care institution. The general practitioner together with a certified nurse or a certified doctor’s assistant can ensure the health care of a patient at the place of general practitioner’s practice and at the place of patient’s residence.
A foreigner with a temporary residence permit is free to choose a general practitioner or a specialist to visit. To register at a general practitioner, you have to draw up an agreement in two copies together with the general practitioner you have chosen. If you are unhappy with your co-operation with the general practitioner, you can at any time re-register with another general practitioner.
When making the appointment with the doctor, MAKE SURE that the doctor can talk to you in the language you understand. Not all doctors in Latvia can provide consultations in several foreign languages!
(2) On the secondary health care level, patient visits the doctor-specialist or receives treatment in hospital. This level is focused on immediate, acute or systematic health care. These services are provided by state, local and private institutions.
A foreigner with a temporary residence permit not receiving state guaranteed health care services can immediately turn to a doctor-specialist without a referral of a general practitioner. Payment for services in different institutions may vary. A specialist’s consultation can cost an average of EUR 15 - 50, in some situations it may cost more.
The doctor providing the primary health care or the specialist has the right to send a patient to the in-patient clinic or hospital for planned treatment. The in-patient medical care is charged. The payment for spending one day at a hospital in Latvia is approximately EUR 30 - 60. The above mentioned price includes the price of the ward, catering, medicine, as well as the examination and the analyses made in laboratories at some hospitals; the price does not include the services provided by doctors-specialists.
(3) Highly specialized health care services are services provided by the specialists of one or several fields of medicine with additional qualification. At this level, patients with dangerous and rare diseases, the treatment of which requires expensive and unique technology, are treated.
The most popular health centers among foreigners to receive primary health care and specialized out-patient health care are: Veselības centrs 4 (www.vc4.lv), Medicīnas sabiedrība ARS (www.ars-med.lv), Rakstnieku poliklīnika (www.poliklinika.lv).
You can get more information about the Latvian health care system on the website of National Health Service (http://www.vmnvd.gov.lv/), by calling 80001234 on working days from 8:30 to 17:00 or by sending an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. At the National Health Service you can get information about patients` rights, health care organization and financing, health care service providers, mandatory requirements for medical institutions.
According to The Regulation of Medical Insurance for the Foreigners, a foreigner has the right to enter and stay in the Republic of Latvia if he/she has a valid medical insurance policy which guarantees that the costs of healthcare services in the Republic of Latvia are covered. The health insurance policy shall be presented, in order to receive a temporary residence permit.
The medical insurance policy for receiving a residence permit is not required for the persons who (1) require the permanent residence permit, (2) are family members of the citizen of EU member state, EEA or the Swiss Confederation, whose stay in Latvia is related to employment, self-employment or provision of services.
The minimum limit of responsibility of insurer
- When requiring the visa or a residence permit, the minimum limit of responsibility of insurer indicated for the period of insurance cannot be less than EUR 42 600.
- The term of validity of the insurance policy cannot be shorter than the planned period of stay in the Republic of Latvia and in the area of one or several Schengen Agreement member states.
The medical insurance policy has to guarantee at least the following medical services:
- Medical service in case of emergency.
- The treatment in in-patient clinic in case of the condition that is critical or dangerous for life.
- The transportation to the nearest medical establishment in both above mentioned cases.
- The transportation back to the home country in case of severe disease or death.
Before purchasing the medical insurance police, ask the information from the insurance company what medical services are covered by it and how to apply the police when it is needed. In Latvia, several insurance companies, for example, Gjensidige Baltic and BTA, offer a health insurance policy that covers just the services required according to The Regulation of Medical Insurance for the Foreigners. This policy DOES NOT cover in-patient and out-patient health care services.
If you want a health insurance policy that also covers out-patient and in-patient health care services, you need a private health insurance. Currently in Latvia two insurance companies, IF (www.if.lv) and Compensa Life (www.compensalife.lv) offer a private insurance policy covering also in-patient and out-patient health care services to foreigner who already have a temporary residence permit. Before purchasing such a policy always make sure what kind of health care services and to what extent it covers. Also make sure of the way how the policy will pay for your visit to a doctor.
GEOGRAPHIC AVAILABILITY OF HEALTH CARE SERVICES
The primary health care services in Latvia can be received at any municipality. The secondary and highly specialized medical services can be received in the largest cities and towns of Latvia.
Small municipalities often have unsatisfactory public transport infrastructure, which causes problems in reaching the health care institution. When visiting the institutions ensuring the health care services one might have a problem getting home on the same day. In order to avert the above mentioned limitations, the municipalities often reimburse the costs of public transport for people with low level of income, so that they could receive the health care services, or ensure a visit of the doctor at patient’s home.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH CARE INSTITUTIONS
The biggest specialized multi-profile children treatment institutions in Latvia are located in Riga and it is the Children’s Hospital in Torņakalns and the Children’s Hospital in Gaiļezers (http://www.bkus.lv/).
Children’s hospital in Torņakalns
Information of the hospital: +371 67064400
Phone in case of emergency: +371 67064499
Out-patient clinic of the Children’s hospital in Torņakalns
Reception: 8866, +371 67064461, +371 67064462
Address: Vienības gatve 45, Rīga, LV – 1004
Children’s hospital in Gaiļezers
Emergency and reception telephone number: + 371 67536758
Out-patient clinic of the Children’s hospital in Gaiļezers
Reception: 8866, +371 67536405
Address: Juglas Street 20, Riga, LV-1079
THE RIGHT OF THE PATIENT: complaints on unsatisfactory quality of health care services received
The Medical Treatment Law of the Republic of Latvia stipulates that the patient has the right to receive the information from the doctor in the way which is understandable to the patient about the diagnosis of the disease, the plan of examinations and treatment, as well as about the other methods of treatment, forecasts and the process of treatment. In the same way the patient has right to refuse completely or partly the medical examinations or treatment offered, which must be approved by the signature of the doctor. The law also guarantees the right of the patient to receive the information about the quality of health care services.
The complaints on the quality of the health care services received can be submitted to the Health Inspectorate. The inspectorate defend the interests of the patients, reviews the complaints, notifications and proposals in the area of health care and imposes penalties for the institutions that provide low quality medical services.
Klijānu Street 7
Phone: +371 67819671
Fax: +371 67819672
The complaints about the violations in the area of health care services can be submitted also to the Ombudsman’s Office and Patients` Ombud Office.
Baznīcas Street 25
Riga, LV – 1010
Patients` Ombud Office
Hipokrāta Street 2,
Riga, LV - 1038, room 106
NGOS OPERATING IN THE FIELD OF HEALTH CARE
There are several NGOs in Latvia cooperating with people that have specific health care needs, defend their rights and interests.
- Association of disabled people and their friends “Apeirons”, http://www.apeirons.lv/ (information is available in English, Latvian, Russian, German and Italian)
- Society for the support of leukemia patients, http://www.leikemija.lv/ (information is available in Latvia)
- Society Association HIV.LV for support of people suffering from HIV and hepatitis C, http://www.apvienibahiv.lv (information is available in Latvia, English and Russian)
- Latvian Celiac Society “Dzīve bez glutēna” ("Life Without Gluten"), http://www.dzivebezglutena.lv (information is available in Latvian, English and Russian)
- Autism Society of Latvia, http://www.autisms.lv (information is available in Latvian, English and Russian)
- Latvian Haemophilia Society, http://www.hemofilija.lv (information is available in Latvian)
- Latvian Diabetes Association, http://www.diabets-asoc.lv/ (information is available in Latvian, English and Russian)
- The Latvian Umbrella Body For Disability Organisations SUSTENTO, http://www.sustento.lv/ (information is available in Latvian, English and Russian)
- Latvian Society of the Blind, http://www.lnbrc.lv/ (information is available in Latvian and English)
- Latvian Association of the Deaf, http://www.lns.lv/ (information is available in Latvian, English and Russian)
- Latvian Red Cross, http://www.redcross.lv (information is available in Latvian, English and Russian)
- Support centre “Dardedze” for children who have suffered from violence, http://www.centrsdardedze.lv/ (information is available in Latvian and English)
- Support centre for children with special needs “Rūpju bērns”, http://www.rupjuberns.lv/ (information is available in Latvian)
NGO Ziedot.lv supports a variety of social and health projects, and helps them find the necessary funding: http://www.ziedot.lv (information is available in Latvian, English, Russian and Swedish)
More information on various NGOs can be found on NGO database http://ngolatvia.lv/en/organizacijas-3
Laws and regulations used
- 12.06.1997. Medical Treatment Law, effective as from 01.10.1997 with amendments made till 01.07.2013.
- Regulation No 591 of the Cabinet of Ministers "The Regulation of Medical Insurance for the Foreigners" effective as from 01.08.2008, with amendments made till 01.01.2014.