Country profile

Serbian healthcare system

There are no two ways about it; the Serbian healthcare system is struggling to cope. While it was once of good quality, with free access under the old Yugoslavian system, it has been overseen by so many different governments over the last few decades that it has fallen into disarray and disrepair. In many areas of the country, healthcare has now reached the point where corruption is rife and many people have to bribe their way in to see a doctor or nurse.

Reforms to the system mean that healthcare should be more widely available and accessible, but is no longer free, with various levels of co-payment now the norm.

With the help and support of the World Health Organisation, Serbia is working hard to address its healthcare issues, and has implemented over 40 EU funded projects worth over €140 million to try and put things right. Serbia also allocates a generous 11% of its GDP to its healthcare budget. Nonetheless, it still ranked last in the 2012 European Health Consumer Index, with underfunded facilities and underpaid staff.

This situation has forced many Serbians to take out private medical insurance, effectively paying for the care they used to get for free. This in turn has created a thriving private sector, with world-class facilities, well trained doctors and surgeons, and state of the art modern clinics, in stark contrast to the state system. This high quality private sector is one of the reasons that Serbia is climbing rapidly up the league of European medical tourism destinations. However ineffective the state reforms are to public healthcare, you can rest assured that as a medical tourist, the care you will receive will be of the highest standard, and the facilities equal to any in Europe.

Another good reason behind Serbia’s success is the combination of low treatment costs and friendly, welcoming staff. The fact that most clinics also speak English is an added bonus for many European and especially American healthcare travelers.

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