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Country-by-country guide

Accessing healthcare in Bulgaria

The National Health Insurance Fund administers the health insurance system in Bulgaria and is carried out by its territorial divisions – the 28 regional Health Insurance Funds.

The availability of state provided healthcare varies in Bulgaria. Although bigger cities and towns provide access to clinics, doctors and hospitals, provision in the more rural areas is restricted.

No matter if you are visiting Bulgaria for leisure or on business, you will need to provide a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when you seek treatment.

Non-EEA nationals are covered in Bulgaria.

Where to get information while in Bulgaria

The National Health Insurance Fund will be able to provide information.

National Health Insurance Fund
1 Kircham Str.
1407 Sofia

Telephone: 00359 2 965 9124
Website: www.nhif.bg

 

Emergency numbers

In case you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Bulgaria, dial 150 to call an ambulance or 155 for other emergency aid. You might want to save the numbers in your phone.

 

Treatment, coverage and costs

Doctors

About 90% of doctors in Bulgaria are registered with the National Insurance Fund, however, you should always check before making an appointment. There is a small charge for seeing a doctor. This is non-refundable in Bulgaria but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in the UK.

If you require medication, a doctor will usually issue you a receipt form (for non–chronic diseases) or a prescription (chronic illnesses).

Dentists

You should consult a dentists who has a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund. However, a patient contribution might be charged. You may be able to seek reimbursement for this when you are back in the UK. If the dentist does not have a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund, you will be charged the full cost of the treatment and those charges are not refundable.

Hospital treatment

Inpatient treatment is provided by public and private hospitals. However, you should ask to be referred to a hospital that has a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund, as they will cover the cost of treatment. After being discharged from hospital, you are entitled to maximum two examinations as part of your in-patient care.

Prescriptions

If you have been issued a receipt form you are able to get you medication for either free or at reduced costs. However, ensure you take the receipt form to a pharmacy that is registered with the National Health Insurance Fund otherwise, you will have to pay the full price.

If you have been issued a prescription you can visit any pharmacy in Bulgaria but you will have to pay the full cost. This is non-refundable in Bulgaria but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in the UK.

Ambulance

Using an ambulance in cases of emergency is free.

 

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

The most common treatments or conditions that require advanced arrangements are listed below. For all other conditions or treatments, you should consult your GP. Remember, for all treatments abroad you must present your EHIC.

Oxygen therapy

Ensure your EHIC is valid before you travel. In most cases you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. You’ll also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There may also be additional costs that the EHIC will not cover.

Your home oxygen supplier is not required to provide a service outside the UK, however, most suppliers will be able to advices you on what to do. Your oxygen treatment clinic will organise your home oxygen supply from one of these suppliers:

Air Liquid: Call them on:

  • 0808 143 9991 for London
  • 0808 143 9992 for North West
  • 0808 143 9993 for East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for South West

Air Products: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales. Call them on 0800 373 580.

BOC: covers the East and North East of England. Call them on 0800 136 603.

Dolby Vivisol: covers the South of England. Call them on 0500 823 773.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) may have additional oxygen contacts for the country you are travelling to. Their website offers general advice about how to make travel arrangements, including advice on:

Ensure you allow plenty of time to make all your arrangements before you travel.

Dialysis

You need to speak to the co-ordinator in your UK Dialysis Unit who will contact the dialysis unit in Bulgaria nearest to where you will be staying. The provision of dialysis will be subject to availability in Bulgaria.

 

Leisure or business - using your EHIC in Bulgaria

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access state provided healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed in order to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

How to claim refunds

The National Health Insurance Fund will be able to provide information on how to claim refunds in Bulgaria.

If you have had to pay for the cost of your care and have been unable to claim a refund during your stay in Bulgaria you should contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle) on 0191 218 1999 (Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm) on your return to the UK. However, the process will take considerably longer then claiming for a refund in Bulgaria.

Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.

Living in Bulgaria

If you're receiving a UK state pension, or in receipt of long-term incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for an E121, which you should then present to the health authorities in Bulgaria.

However, if you move to Bulgaria to live but not work and do not receive a UK benefit, you may be eligible for up to two-and-a-half years of state healthcare cover, paid for by the UK. In this case, you will need to apply for an E106.

For more details on how to apply for an E121 or E106, visit the  'Moving abroad' section.

How to register your E121 or E106

In both cases, you will need to contact the National Health Insurance Fund. Additionally, you might be asked to provide a copy of the original E121/ E106 and a proof of identity.

How to register with a GP

No information available

Working in Bulgaria

This section applies if you have been issued with an E106.

How to register your E106

You will need to contact the National Health Insurance Fund. Additionally, you might be asked to provide a copy of the original E106 and a proof of identity.

How to register with a GP

No information available

 

Am I still eligible for treatment under the NHS?

UK citizens registered in another EEA country and using an E106 or E121 are not automatically eligible for free treatment in the UK.

You should also visit the 'Planned treatment abroad' section for detailed information.

 

Page last reviewed: 23/06/2011

Next review due: 23/06/2013

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