Croatia's national healthcare system is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. All Croatian citizens and foreign nationals who have permanent residency or are employed in Croatia have access to national health insurance, which is regulated by the Hrvatski zavod za zdravstveno osiguranje (HZZO), or Croatian Institute for Health Insurance.
Foreigners may also have health benefits if their country of origin has a reciprocal health insurance agreement with Croatia. In addition to national public healthcare, private healthcare is also available.
Each area of Zagreb has its own health center (Dom zdravlja) associated with the national healthcare system. If you are registered with HZZO, this is where you go for primary care and specialist referrals, if necessary. Seeing your primary care doctor is fairly straightforward. You don't need to make an appointment - patients are treated on a walk-in basis. Generally, wait times are not very long.
Many expats and Croatian citizens, however, choose to go to a private doctor. Private facilities are often newer and more modern, however both public and private facilities are well equipped. There are many private poliklinika in Zagreb, which are clinics with primary care practitioners and specialists.
Doctors in Croatia generally speak at least working English, and most are proficient speakers of English or other foreign languages.
If you are enrolled in the national health care system, no payment is made directly to your doctor. At private clinics, you must pay for treatment at the time of service. Some clinics accept credit card payments, but smaller practices often only take cash, so it's best to verify accepted methods of payment before your appointment.
If you are registered with the national health care system, you will simply go the nearest Dom zdravlja for general health concerns; your doctor will then refer you to a specialist or a hospital if necessary. A full list of Dom zdravlja is provided online by the City of Zagreb.
If you are looking for a private doctor, word of mouth is often the best way to find a doctor you'll feel comfortable with. You may also check with your embassy, as they might have a list of recommended doctors who speak your native language. If you have travelers' insurance or are covered by another insurance plan, consult with your insurance company for recommended clinics.
Most dental procedures are covered by Croatian national health insurance. In general, medical procedures are covered, while cosmetic procedures may not be. There might be a surcharge for certain services: for example, regular fillings are covered by national health insurance, but white composite fillings come at an extra charge.
There are also many private dentists in Zagreb whose rates may be much less what you would pay in your home country. In fact, Croatia is becoming a recognized dental tourism destination. Several dental clinics in Zagreb cater specifically to foreigners who are looking for affordable and quality dental care, with some even offering to pay their clients' accommodation.
Again, word of mouth is a great way to find a dentist, but a quick Google search will also bring up clinics in Zagreb whose services are particularly foreigner-friendly.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Zagreb is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Croatia. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
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Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Croatia: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.