Department of Health website clearly states that Britons travelling
to or living in Bulgaria are entitled to critical and essential
expatriate healthcare in Bulgaria which should include doctors’
visits, basic dental treatment and hospital care and the provision
of these services is given in reciprocation as Bulgarians have the
right to the same in the UK.
However, because the state healthcare system in Bulgaria has suffered
from extreme under funding for years it is way behind the UK and
other Western European nations in terms of facilities, services
and expertise therefore the majority of expatriates in Bulgaria
take out international expatriate health insurance so that they
can afford private medical care. Given the dramatic cost of later
life healthcare, is it reasonable to expect other EU states to fund
the cost of elderly UK citizens healthcare while we as a country
mop up large numbers of talented young healthy migrant workers to
support our economy? France has already said no and removed healthcare
benefits for foreign citizens under their retirement age.
In terms of the availability of hospitals, clinics and medical services
in Bulgaria all major towns and cities have at least one hospital
and most doctors in state and private hospitals have at least a
rudimentary understanding of English. This means that in an emergency
one doesn’t have to panic and try and find a translator! However,
if an expat is unfortunate enough to require a hospital stay they
will find that few of the nursing staff will have foreign language
skills and that nursing care where it is available is limited.
In countries such as Bulgaria and also Turkey as well, the family
is expected to take care of their sick relatives when they are in
hospital and it is down to the family to provide the type of nursing
that we associate with Western hospitals where meals are provided
and sheets are changed by staff for example. In Bulgaria expatriates
who fall ill will need their friends or family to help out or else
they should see about being repatriated to the UK or wherever their
home country is.
medical insurance schemes have repatriation included but some
do not; for anyone concerned about this it will be necessary to
find a provider who includes Bulgaria in their geographic area of
cover and who will allow for the repatriation of the patient in
In terms of expatriate healthcare in Bulgaria, those who can afford
it generally prefer to go to the private clinics, doctors and hospitals
that are available in the main towns and cities. For a basic consultation
expect to pay around GBP 15 which can rise to around GBP 50 for
a consultation with a private specialist. Any Britons who
wish to receive free treatment have to provide their passport and
also their medical card which is available from the department of
health in the UK before they can be treated.
There are no hazardous health issues that expatriates living
in Bulgaria need to be aware of but those who are moving or
travelling to Bulgaria are advised to get an up to date tetanus
injection and consider Hep A and Typhoid as well.