Health & Hospital Access in Lithuania
You can expect a good standard of medical care in Lithuania, much of it provided by a state-funded system called PSD (Privalomasis Sveikatos Draudimas). The ratio of doctors to people is higher than in many countries, staff are well trained and hospitals well equipped, although there can often be long waiting times, especially in facilities located in the larger population centers.
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You will also have some choice in the hospital you go to after a referral from your family doctor. The largest state hospitals are located in the cities of Vilnius and Kaunas. These cities are also home to the largest number of private medical facilities in Lithuania, with around 250 establishments in Vilnius and 150 in Kaunas.
Healthcare for tourists
If you are visiting Lithuania on holiday, you can expect to receive emergency healthcare free of charge or at a reduced cost with an EHIC. Be aware that this is likely to change when the UK leaves the European Union.
If you experience an emergency medical situation during your stay in Lithuania, call 112. This number is also for the police and the fire brigade. You will not need to pay for basic emergency care in a state hospital, but you will have access to more services if you have health insurance. Bear in mind that if you ask your hotel to arrange medical care, they may arrange private treatment for you, for which you will be charged. Make sure you use the emergency number and ask to be taken to a state hospital. Calls will be answered in Lithuanian, so, unless you have a good command of the language, it is advisable to ask for help from a local person.
European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, entitles you to basic healthcare, at reduced or no cost, under the state system whilst visiting Lithuania. Visit www.gov.uk for more information on how to apply for your card, free of charge. Once you have your EHIC card, you can access medical treatment, which is usually free, by showing it, along with your passport. Visits to General Practitioners are also free, although dental treatment and prescriptions do incur a charge.
Health travel insurance
It is recommended by the UK government that those travelling to Lithuania on holiday take out extra travel health insurance that will enable them to access any medical assistance they might need. Remember that your EHIC will not cover any private treatment. Nor will it cover the costs of being brought back to the UK, mountain rescue services or cruises. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, extra insurance is strongly recommended. Well before leaving for Lithuania, make sure you consult with both your doctor and insurance company to discuss your needs. Extra insurance also gives you access to private healthcare in Lithuania. There is a thriving private healthcare industry in the country, especially in the capital city, Vilnius. Private treatment will give you much more flexibility and choice. For example, you are likely to be seen much more quickly, to be able to choose your doctor and to opt for an English speaking doctor if you wish to do so.
Most dental treatment is not covered by your EHIC in Lithuania as very few dentists are part of the state system, so it is worth allowing for emergency dental care in your insurance as you will need to pay for this yourself. Some dentists may speak English, especially in the cities, so it may be worth seeking one of these out.
Hospitals in Lithuania are generally well equipped and have a high complement of doctors, many of whom train overseas. City hospitals do tend to be much better appointed than those in more rural locations, with the largest being located in Vilnius and Kaunas. You may well experience long waiting times though, as hospitals sometimes struggle to cope with the demand for their services. If you opt to be treated in a private hospital, you will have to pay for this at the time of treatment. If private treatment is covered by your insurance, make sure you keep all paperwork and receipts in order to claim the money back.