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Free Medical Advice sponsored by
Got an ache or pain? Have a question about a prescription or over-the-counter drug? Looking for some FREE medical advice?
Question:
I am thinking of living in Russia. What is the quality of medical care and is there insurance I can buy.
rmc
Answer:
Thank you for your inquiry. The quality of medical care varies in Russia as in other countries very much according to where you are going to be living, without this info we regret any generalized answer would be fairly meaningless. If a foreigner living in Russia you should have insurance that covers treatment both inside and outside the country i.e. both medical expenses and evacuation insurance. This is a complex issue and needs careful research. Determine your needs: Single people with no dependants may well feel that insurance is a costly extra. Yet illness does not confine itself to older age groups, and those with a more adventurous lifestyle do run an increased risk of injury. A preferred plan in this category may be a pre-paid clinic program for routine medical care, coupled with higher deductible / lower premium medical insurance in the case of unexpected hospitalisation, and evacuation insurance that will cover not just the city and country of residence but more exotic business and leisure travel destinations. Family plans are more expensive but more comprehensive. For mom and children, it is especially important to determine if a particular pre-paid plan includes prenatal care, childhood immunizations, well baby visits and house calls. Evacuation insurance almost never covers complications of late pregnancy (and so it is important to check how the insurance company defines 'later pregnancy' - after how many weeks). Medical / hospitalisation insurance also rarely covers delivery and the complications of delivery unless specially negotiated. When living overseas, people often prefer to seek surgery or in-patient treatment in a different country, and longer-term care or serious surgery (such as that for cancer) in yet another country, i.e. "at home". Few insurance plans will pay for policyholders to travel to another country for elective care, and some will not even pay to travel to another country for essential surgery if they believe that "adequate" facilities exist locally.These restrictions can cause a lot of anxiety and even anger when they are encountered only when an emergency strikes, so it is best to carefully verify the coverage and the exclusions before making any decisions. Investigate your options: Speak with friends and acquaintances - especially those in your situation. Augment this with help from someone who has worked in the HR or health care areas; a good way to determine the reliability of a particular insurance provider is to ask those who have directly worked with the patients insured by that provider. Be wary of placing too much credence on anecdote or criticism of one case where the true facts may not be - almost will certainly not be - available to all "interested" parties, but make a note of the criticisms and discuss them with the insurance provider's sales team. Test your provider(s) of choice: Companies highlight many benefits in the "large print" sections of their product and service brochures, but exclusions are generally not as well publicized. It is best to be sure that a so-called international provider is truly international, and even more important that they have a representative office and "people on the ground" in the countries that matter personally. (When making inquiries about the extent of a claimed provider network, use a location that is familiar and see if their response rings true). It may be helpful to call the dedicated line outside of normal working hours to test that the people answering the phone have the required language skills and the decision-making capability to assist in a real emergency (but be fair - calling at 2 a.m. on a Saturday is not reasonable, 2 p.m. certainly is). It is perfectly fair to raise a scenario of a real diagnosis and ask which local or regional centre would be the referral centre, who would cover the costs of transport, who would be accompanying a patient unable to travel independently, and so forth. It is essential also to check that the insurance company can be reached 24 hours a day, and that if they do not have an in-house assistance provider, that the assistance company they contract with has a physical presence in the country of residence. An insurance company should usually be able to provide a "Guarantee of Payment" (GOP) services to overseas medical providers. GOPs, credit card payments or cash transfers are often essential to get access to the required care. While it is not always possible for an insurance or assistance company to get a provider to accept a GOP - many providers, hospitals and doctors, will demand cash payment from foreigners (especially tourists and especially for amounts under US$250-500), the insurer should be able to attempt such GOPs. Otherwise it may be necessary to pay a considerable amount of money up-front, possibly without even getting a receipt, and then try to claim it back. Consider adding necessary extras to standard insurance plans: No plan can cover every need, and it is always a good idea - especially for expatriates - to purchase a supplemental product to provides additional services. Supplemental services to consider are: - 24 hour PHYSICIAN (not customer service) consultation via phone. Usually only a physician can determine if a medical complaint is not as serious - or is more serious - than it seems. - Physician referrals and other network services - The ability to arrange a house/hotel call if the patient is too ill to travel to the nearest doctor or hospital. - Prescription replacement and delivery services - Evacuation coordination and medical, ambulance and flight service delivery (for example, International SOS has an air ambulance permanently stationed in Moscow for rapid response in an emergency). Hope this helps.
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