Country profile

The healthcare system in Bulgaria

General healthcare in Bulgaria varies depending on where you are. In the cities, major hospitals boast plentiful, professional, qualified staff, clean modern wards and the latest technology, achieving standards that will be familiar to European visitors. In more rural areas, however, you may have to travel a considerable distance for the privilege of staying in a grim, Soviet era clinic, where your friends and family will be expected to make your bed and prepare your food.

Bulgarian healthcare is universal and state funded through the National Health Insurance Fund. Bulgaria spends around 4.2% of its GDP on healthcare and has around 1.8 doctors per 1,000 people, which is above the EU average.  However, a legacy of poor healthcare funding over decades in the Eastern Bloc means that life expectancy is well below the EU average, at just 76 for women and under 70 for men.

The private healthcare sector however, sits in stark contrast to the overall picture. Many doctors and dentists turned private with the introduction of the free market following the fall of communism, leading to a glut of private practices. This meant that clinics had to invest in better technology and provide better staff training and service in order to gain a competitive edge in a crowded market. At the same time, a low wage economy forced them to keep their prices down.

The result is a very well equipped private sector for medical work, cosmetic surgery and cosmetic dental surgery, with incredibly low prices. For example breast enhancement surgery will cost no more than €2,500 and a face lift just €1,200. Bulgarian dental prices represent even greater savings, with initial treatment starting as low as €10. And with almost 8,000 well equipped Bulgarian dental clinics to choose from, you could negotiate an even better deal.

There is a wide choice of healthcare tourism options in Bulgaria, with many quality dental clinics springing up around the major tourist centres and medical and cosmetic surgery clinics appearing at many of the country’s famous spa sites. And the industry is growing and improving all the time, with the Bulgarian Union for Spa Tourism estimating that no less than $5.4billion has been invested across the sector in recent years.

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