HIF covers medical services such as specialist treatment, hospitalization, prescriptions, pregnancy, childbirth, and rehabilitation. Check with your employer that you are registered with the HIF.
Healthcare cards are issued yearly, and Serbian employers are obliged to provide all full-time staff with this cover, although there can be an unwillingness to do so amongst certain employers. With this healthcare insurance card you are entitled to access state medical facilities and receive healthcare free of charge with some exceptions.
Employer and employees both share the obligation to contribute to the health care fund; the amount of contributions is dependent on earnings. Dependent family members are covered as long as contributions are made. However, for the self-employed, a full contribution is expected. The unemployed, elderly, pensioners, those suffering long-term illness, and those on maternity leave are exempted from payments.
For foreigners who do not yet have a job in Serbia must produce proof of private health insurance in order to obtain a residence permit.
Foreigners are expected to pay medical costs in Serbia unless their insurance is included under the bilateral health insurance treaty agreement between their home country and Serbia. Emergency care is free for citizens, foreigners and even visitors; however, doctor's services are not. Emergency departments are open all year round. Hospitals require cash payments up front for their services.
The cost of visiting the doctor obviously depends upon the care received, but be prepared to pay immediately after any visit with your credit card or cash. Medical bills vary from surgery to surgery and are dependent upon the medical complaint, but expect to pay up to 3000 dinars (35 Euros) in consultation fees, with prescriptions, tests and operations on top of that. Enquire with the surgery in advance as to how much care will cost so as not to be caught out or short. It is also advisable to keep receipts of all care given for insurance purposes.
Health centers in Serbia are known as domovi zdravlja, which have their own smaller health stations called zdravstvene stanice. People in need of general medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, occupational medicine, dentistry, home care, preventive care, and laboratory services can go to the nearest health center. In addition, the health centers provide public health surveillance, tuberculosis control programs, physical and occupational therapy, maternity care, child healthcare, dental care and emergency medical aid.
Citizens and foreigners need to pay for each visit to a doctor. GPs make referrals, prescribe drugs, treat acute and chronic illnesses, and provide preventive care and health education.
Dentists are called zubar in Serbia. Dental services or treatments are also paid up front, and are not covered by health insurance.
Apoteka are dispensing chemists selling medicines in Serbia. A prescription can only come from a doctor or a specialist consultant. There are two types of pharmacy in the country: state-owned or private, state pharmacies have a shortage of supplies of medicine while the privately owned stock basic medicines only.
The Serbian medical profession has a respectable reputation internationally, but most would always recommend a trusted, private clinic. Standards at such institutions are higher than at state practices and conform to good European standards. Hygiene, professionalism and speed of care are all good, but it is worth considering that the more that you pay, the better the service. Also the more up-market the clinic, the higher the likelihood that doctors there will speak English.
Waiting times for private clinics are very short in Serbia and you should be able to see a doctor within two days of booking an appointment. Most also work weekends. It isn’t necessary for you to sign up as a patient of the surgery, simply turn up on the appointed day and give your name.