I came to Zagreb in 2014. For my short 3 months touristic residency, I had health insurance with a private company. The way it worked is that when I had to use a medical service I paid it by myself and then sent to the company to investigate and pay me back if I am eligible. As I was getting married to a Croatian and planning to settle here, we thought of the Croatian health insurance.
I will be talking more about my experience, explaining the 5000 kuna you need to pay and how to find your doctor but as my experience with the procedures of getting the Croatian health insurance is 4 years old, I thought it is better to share updated information. That’s why I talked to Iven Perkovic, a new member of the expats community who had just finished his procedures of getting the Croatian health insurance.
I was curious to know more about his story first, what brought him to Croatia and Zagreb specifically, when he said:
My wife and I have three young daughters aged 6,7, and 9 years of age. We were all born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I am of Croatian heritage and my wife has New Zealand/Greek heritage.
After having travelled to Croatia for a few consecutive summer holidays, we all fell in love with the country. We decided to move to Croatia to experience a different way of life, experience things that we never could in Australia, use the opportunity to travel around Europe, and most importantly, we wanted our children to be exposed to the Croatian culture and be able to learn the language. We feared if we did not take our children to Croatia that the bond to Croatia would be lost in the coming generations.
My family’s Croatian origins are from Dalmatia, but we decided to live in Zagreb because of access to the British International School of Zagreb, where the children would not fall behind in their education if we were to return to Australia at some point. The school’s primary language is English, but offer classes up to four times per week in Croatian, and this suits us just fine. In addition to the school requirements being met in Zagreb, we also love the city itself and the people. There are countless regular activities scheduled to keep us and everyone entertained within the city. It is an easy city to get around in with or without a car, and is more affordable than many other European capitals. At this point we are committed to living in Zagreb but one thing I have learnt is that there are no certainties or absolutes in life. We are fortunate enough to have options in terms of where we can live and as always will keep our options open.
Having said that, the summer months will be spent on the beautiful Dalmatian coast. Thus, being able to live between the coast and Zagreb, we believe we are quite fortunate to have the best of both worlds.
The procedures of getting a Croatian health insurance
Coming back to the Croatian health insurance, I asked Ivens about the procedures. He shared it with me step by step.
Registering for health insurance wasn’t any more difficult than dealing with any other government department for other issues. In fact, it was probably simpler and the staff at HZZO were quite helpful.
Once you have your temporary residence papers and identification card (osobna), you need to attend the HZZO office at JukicevaUl. 12, Zagreb, in person. You will need to go directly to room 18 on the first floor. Surprisingly the wait isn’t very long as people are dealt with quite quickly. Once at the counter, you hand over your osobna and the staff member takes care of the rest. The whole process takes about 5 minutes maximum if you have everything organised.
The downside is that you need to pay for the health insurance. You will be required to “backpay” twelve months of cover which amounts to approximately 5,500 HRK. Then you will need to pay 457 HRK per month as an ongoing concern (or you can pay for the next 12 months in advance if you wish). This can be paid on the spot directly with mobile internet banking or at a bank or post office with a payment slip which they will provide you. We chose to pay directly via mobile banking as it is quicker, simpler, and a little cheaper in fees.
Once the fees are paid, HZZO provide you with a verification of registration letter that you will need to take to your local public health clinic (Dom Zdravlja) or private clinic (poliklinika). This is necessary for them to confirm if they can or will accept you on their books as one of their patients in their clinic. In the public system, you are able to register with a general medical practitioner, a dentist, and a gynaecologist for ladies. Any consultations and services within this system (Dom Zdravlja) are meant to be provided at no charge to the patient, but I’m sure there must be limitations to this at some level??? I must admit we have not had to use the services yet, so I cannot comment on any specifics.
So anyhow, once you have registered with each individual health practitioner’s receptionist, they will provide you with some papers showing that you have been accepted under their care within the clinic. These papers will need to be taken and lodged back at the HZZO for the process to be completed. Seems like an unnecessary step for the individual to have to endure again, but like so many things here “you need to stop asking why and just do it!.”It’s better for your health and wellbeing.
There is also one other matter to consider, and that is whether you would like additional insurance (DopunskoOsiguranje)? I’m not entirely sure what it exactly covers (maybe others reading this could enlighten us on those facts?), but I was recommended by all family and friends to take out this cover as well….so we did. Dopunskoosiguranje costs an additional 70 HRK per month and can be applied for on the ground floor at the same HZZO office building. It requires your osobna, an application form to be filled in, and payment at the bank or post office. We paid the twelve months in advance again purely because we are trying to simplify our lives and not go waiting in queues at the post office too often. After the form is completed they will issue you a certificate of insurance immediately and the breakdown of the monthly payments along with the payment instructions. You then take this to the bank/post office and they provide you with the appropriate payment slip to be filled in. If you are really nice, the staff member may even fill it in for you. Pay the total balance that you choose, and congratulations the process is done.
Another note I should mention is that you will receive cards in the mail, which you will need to bring with you to any future visits. One card is for general health insurance and we were advised that it will take about two to three months to arrive via the post. The other card is for the dopunskoosiguranje and will take about two to three weeks to arrive.
Finding your primary doctor
I then asked Ivens,
After getting your health insurance card you will need to have a primary general doctor, dentist, …etc, How did you manage to find your doctors and how did you register with them as a patient?
We found our doctor’s clinics (Dom Zdravlja) from people’s recommendations, “Expat’s In Zagreb” Facebook page, and Google. After looking at the options we just picked the clinic that suited our needs and went with that. Two main criteria that we had was that all of our health practitioners also spoke English, and were located within a reasonable proximity to our home.
In summary, we didn’t find the whole process overly difficult nor confusing. It will require some time and research but all in all the process shouldn’t really be an obstacle for most. As with all dealings in bureaucratic matters, patience and a positive attitude will help overcome obstacles in front of you.
By this I thank Ivens for sharing his experience, and as I just had my primary gynecologist assigned, I can share my experience as well.
I don’t speak Croatian, I always depend on my husband for help and he usually uses a website that lists all the doctors working with HZZZO. I will be sharing with you how to access this website step by step as it could be a bit challenging if you don’t speak Croatian.
After I selected the doctor I wanted, according to his/her address and the reviews. I then had to call to ask if they can accept more patients. Calling is not easy, you have to be patient and never mind calling over and over as it will be busy or no one will answer for a while. Also each doctor works at certain hours so you have to check when they work as it changes from day to day. On even numbers day, they have certain working hours which differs from odd numbers days.
Finding the gynecologist was easy as after 3 days of calling they answered and they said they accept new patients so I went and registered.
I will be talking more about my experience on the Podcast.
Now how can you find the list of doctors :
Go to the HZZO website
- main horizonatal menu: “Zdravstvena zaštita”
left vertical menu:
“Zdravstvena zaštita pokrivena obveznim zdravstvenim osiguranjem > Ugovoreni sadržaji zdravstvene zaštite u RH”
“Ugovoreni sadržaji zdravstvene zaštite u RH” – to download the excel files with the detail list
of doctors, addresses, number of patients, etc…
” Popis doktora ugovorenih u djelatnosti opće obiteljske medicine” general
” Popis doktora ugovorenih u djelatnosti zdravstvene zaštite žena” for women (gyno)
” Popis doktora ugovorenih u djelatnosti dentalne zdravstvene zaštite (polivalentne)” dental
” Popis doktora ugovorenih u djelatnosti zdravstvene zaštite predškolske djece” preschool children
“Popis ugovorenih ljekarni u RH ” – list of contracted pharmacies
“Popis dežurnih ljekarni u RH” – list of attending (on duty) pharmacies
It is useful to find out how many patients the doctor has.
The maximum numbers allowed are as following:
General: 1750 (standard), 2125(max),
Children (pediatric): 1190
This allows you to search by area but you can’t see the number of patients unless you download the excel file from option 1
” Zdravstvena zaštita pokrivena obveznim zdravstvenim osiguranjem >Tražilica ugovorenih sadržaja zdravstvene zaštite u RH”
Finally you need to read the doctors reviews. Go to http://www.najdoktor.com/
Type in the doctor’s name and use google translate to help you with the reviews.
If you can’t find a doctor this means the doctor was not registered or the doctor had bad reviews and asked to remove his name and the bad reviews.
I hope this was helpful. Now you can get your Croatian health insurance and settle in Zagreb.
Listen to unique Zagreb podcast to know more about my experience with the Croatian health insurance.
Written by Theresa Khalil