This blog post was written by Tereza, a MBA student at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).
Finding a family doctor in a foreign country can be a daunting task, especially if the healthcare system and culture are unfamiliar. Estonia is known for its good quality healthcare system, but navigating through it can be a challenge for those who are new to the country. In Estonia, every citizen and resident must have a family doctor. If you are new to Estonia or have never had a family doctor before, here's what you need to know to get one.
Choosing a Family Doctor
Family doctors ("perearst" in Estonian) play a crucial role in Estonian healthcare. You can choose a family doctor from a list of doctors provided by the Health Insurance Fund (Tervisekassa). Make sure to register with a doctor who is within the same area/county as your mentioned address. Moreover, family doctors in Estonia don't need to speak English. But upon exploring, many doctors do speak English and if you come across one who does not speak, during registering you can always change the doctor or go with options you might have chosen.
Registering with a Family Doctor
Once you have chosen a family doctor, the next step is to register with them. This can be done by submitting a signed application also known as "Avaldus perearsti nimistusse registreerimiseks”. The application is usually in Estonian but with a little help from google one can easily fill out the form with their details. Moreover, the forms are readily available in the www.eesti.ee or even on the websites of clinics or hospitals. The forms can be signed digitally via the Digidoc4 client if you intend to send them via email to the doctor or clinic or they can be submitted to the nearest clinic physically but the probability of having your application form accepted by the receptionist will be purely based on the availability of slots of the family doctors for that specific hospital. So to avoid uncertainty it would be best to send an email to the doctors or clinics you have selected through the Tervisekassa website.
Once you registered for a family doctor the waiting begins. The approval email usually takes 7 – 10 days and if you have submitted the form at a hospital, you will receive a phone call about the application. Moreover, if a doctor declines the application request it can be due to the reason that your address is not within their service area or their directory to accept patients is full and the patient acceptance directory quota is based on the practices they work for.
In the meantime, you can even go for alternate online health options such as Salu.md, a subscription-based service where you can access consultations with qualified doctors in English, Estonian, and Russian. Also, private clinics such as Qvalitas or Confido are available. However, for these services, you would need to pay for yourself since it is not covered by the national health insurance.
Now you're all set!
Getting yourself registered and having a family doctor doesn’t look complicated anymore, isn’t it? Also, for more healthcare information, you can check out eesti.ee and for receiving emergency services you can dial 112 or go to the nearest emergency room in your locality.
Read more blog posts:
- Studying in Estonia: Frequently Asked Questions
Find YOUR study programme from Study in Estonia programme's page.