If you are planning to study in a Russian higher educational institution (HEI), you must first prepare your finances for living expenses, as well as health insurance. Health services in Russia are free for its citizens, but not to foreign nationals. Thus, international students must have an insurance policy.

Read on to learn more about the health services in Russia, especially for international students. 

Russia’s Healthcare System is Provided by the State and the Private Sector

The country’s national public healthcare system is led by the Russian Ministry of Health. At the local level, each federal region has its own departments of health. 

Just like other healthcare systems in Europe, both the Russian state and the private sector provide healthcare to the citizens. Thus, healthcare is free for all Russian citizens through a compulsory health insurance program or the Federal Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund (FOMS). 

However, the Russian government has faced so much criticism due to how it manages healthcare in the country. In fact, it has been criticized due to its small spending on healthcare, resulting in outdated hospital equipment, and poorly paid medical practitioners. 

Thus, for other people, they choose from various private health services available in the country (which is quicker and has better quality). 

Foreign Nationals Can Only Access First Aid and Emergency Medical Care for Free

Health services in Russia may be free to its citizens, but it isn’t the case for expats and international students.

Those staying in the country for a long period of time can access basic health services for free, such as first aid, and emergency medical care—if they have their own health insurance policy. However, for those without insurance policies, private clinics can admit them if they can cover their own expenses. 

International Students Must Have Health Insurance

For international students and expats, other health services including routine check-ups, tests, prescriptions, and specialist consultations, are not free of charge. Thus, it is useful to have health insurance when they go to Russia. 

For students staying in Russia for just a few weeks, months, up to one year, ordinary travel health insurance can suffice during their short stay. However, those staying in Russia for more than one year must apply for an insurance policy that is valid in Russia. 

A voluntary health insurance (VHI) policy can cover the minimum health services that foreign nationals need during their whole stay in Russia, including hospitalization and patient care, and is accepted in most hospitals and clinics.

By having a VHI, international students won’t have to pay first to see a doctor. Instead, aside from their policy, they can just show their student ID or passport. 

To avail one, international students can contact their HEI before their departure for Russia to ask if they assist in getting a VHI policy. Another way to avail is through Russian insurers, although this might usually be more expensive. 

Accessing health services in Russia while studying there for a long time is important, and should be part of one’s budget for studying abroad. To learn more about living in Russia, including its cost of living, check out MSM Unify’s article on Cost of Living in Russia for International Students.