Every EU country has reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK, and as long as you travel with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you are entitled to reduced or even free healthcare. Bulgaria is no exception. Visitors with valid EHICs are able to access healthcare in the same way a resident Bulgarian would. Despite the apparent simplicity of the system, however, individual countries have slightly different rules and regulations, and it pays to be aware of them before you visit. |
While the EHIC is a useful piece of documentation, it does not cover everything. To supplement your EHIC, investment in adequate single trip or annual travel insurance is recommended. For regular travellers, annual travel insurance is a cost effective way to stay comprehensively insured.
What Is Covered by the EHIC in Bulgaria?
As with most European countries that accept the EHIC, private treatment for any medical care is not covered. If you have a single trip or annual travel insurance policy, you need to check the details to find out if private treatment is covered. To receive the EHIC benefits you must see a doctor that is contracted to the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). The NHIF has a useful website with some information in English regarding their healthcare system, so you can get clued up before you travel.
Most doctors in Bulgaria are covered by the NHIF but it is wise to check first. Every time you see a doctor you will be required to pay a small contribution, which you cannot claim back with your EHIC. Doctors issue medication by way of either a receipt form or prescription, which you then take to the pharmacy. With medication for non-chronic diseases you get a receipt form, which entitles you to either free or reduced cost medication, as long as the pharmacy is registered with the NHIF. A prescription is issued for medications for chronic diseases and these must be paid for in full. The cost of a prescription is non-refundable, unless of course you have single trip or annual travel insurance.
What About Dentists?
If you need to see a dentist while in Bulgaria, you must visit one that is contracted to the NHIF. Otherwise, you are responsible for paying for the treatment in full and are not entitled to a refund with a valid EHIC. Different insurance policies have different regulations with regards to dentists, so check your annual travel insurance to see what you can claim back.
When you are travelling, the last thing you want to think about is the possibility of having to go into hospital. However, accidents do happen and it is best to know what the procedure is, just in case. Inpatient treatment is provided on a public and private basis in Bulgaria, but if you only have your EHIC you must ensure you visit an NHIF contracted hospital. You will then have your treatment covered and will also be entitled to two further examinations after your hospital stay.
Wherever you travel to within the EU, despite the benefits you can redeem with your EHIC, it is always best to cover yourself and obtain good single trip or annual travel insurance.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip and annual travel insurance policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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