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(Privately purchased) travel health insurance
This section provides information on when and how travel health insurance can be used, including when coverage starts and terminates and the usual terms and conditions and consequences of the use of such an insurance product to obtain healthcare services.
Act No. 326/1999 Coll. (The Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals in the Czech Republic), as last amended, requires foreign nationals to prove they have insurance to cover the cost of healthcare. This obligation can be fulfilled by having travel health insurance coverage (i.e. an insurance policy providing such coverage). See Sections 180i and 180j of Act No. 326/1999 Coll. for what qualifies as acceptable proof of travel health insurance coverage. The above applies to situations in which the cost of providing healthcare services is not covered under an international agreement or covered under a public health insurance program; and, this requirement can be met if the foreign national can verifiably show how the costs associated with the providing of healthcare services would be covered in another way.
If a foreign national comes to the Czech Republic for the purpose of employment, the above-described obligation is fulfilled on the day the individual becomes an employee of an employer with a registered address or permanent residence in the Czech Republic. In other circumstances, the foreign national needs to have travel health insurance or prove that the reimbursement of healthcare services will be taken care of in another way. If the foreign national is staying in the Czech Republic without insurance, the person is violating Czech or European legislation and the person is under the threat of prosecution. In such an uninsured situation, the foreign national who needs health care services will be required to pay for such services in cash. Such care, beyond that needed to provide necessary and urgent care, can be quite expensive.
Proof of travel health insurance (among other things) is not required for foreign nationals from the countries of Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Yemen. Foreign nationals from these countries are provided with any necessary and urgent healthcare out of the State budget on the basis of bilateral international treaties upon showing proof of citizenship in one of these countries (e.g. a valid passport). (Note: The Agreement between the Government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and the Government of the Yemen Arab Republic on cooperation in the field of Health Care and Medical Sciences (No. 95/1985 Coll.) will be terminated on April 21, 2015).
Proof of travel health insurance is also not required from individuals who are insured in a state with which the Czech Republic has signed an international social security agreement (Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey).
In general, individuals who are citizens from one of these countries just need to verify their citizenship (e.g. with a valid passport). However, this does not apply to citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina – citizens of these countries are not automatically provided with healthcare on the basis of citizenship. Thus, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina need to verify that they have health insurance in their country of origin (i.e. Bosnia and Herzegovina). They can do this using any of the following documents: a medical certificate, proof of employment or proof of entitlement to a pension.
Foreign nationals without permanent residency in the Czech Republic and who are not employed in the Czech Republic cannot participate in the public health insurance program. In most such cases, these individuals will need to arrange for their own private or travel health insurance. Such insurance is different from and independent of the Czech public health insurance program. Such private insurance will be based on a contractual relationship (an insurance policy) entered into between the insured person and the respective insurance company. Such insurance is not offered by the previously mentioned Czech health insurance companies, but rather by insurance companies covered under Act No. 277/2009 Coll. on Insurance.
The requirements for proof of travel health insurance in the case of stay of up to 90 days are set out in the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 on the Community Code on Visas (Visa Code). This regulation requires travel health insurance to cover any costs that might arise during the stay of a foreign national in connection with their repatriation to their country of residency for medical reasons or in connection with the providing of emergency medical care, emergency hospital treatment or death. The insurance must be valid throughout the territory of the Member States and cover the entire period of the person’s intended stay. The minimum required insurance coverage is EUR 30,000.
According to the “Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals in the Czech Republic”, for a stay over 90 days, the individual’s travel insurance must cover the costs the foreign national would be obligated to pay in the country for any necessary and urgent medical care that might be needed. This would include the cost of their return to their country of residency; or, in the case of death, the costs associated with transporting the individual’s bodily remains to the country represented on the individual’s travel document (or to another state in which the individual is allowed to stay). The agreed limit of coverage per claim is at least EUR 60,000 (excluding the participation of the insured in the above costs).
Travel health insurance in also required when an individual is applying to the Czech Republic for a visa for a stay of over 90 days or for an extension of a stay in the Czech Republic. Such health insurance must be purchased from an insurance company authorized to provide such insurance in the Czech Republic and the policy must include comprehensive healthcare coverage. The term “comprehensive healthcare” means healthcare provided to the insured person by the insurer’s contractual providers of healthcare services, without the insured being required to directly pay for the cost of treatment. The objective of comprehensive care insurance is to maintain the health condition of the insured person during the period preceding the expiration of the insurance contract. This insurance shall not exclude preventive or dispensary healthcare or healthcare related to pregnancy and childbirth for the insured mother and her child. When arranging for an insurance contract, it is important to pay proper attention to these requirements.
The above obligations regarding travel health insurance do not apply to persons covered by Regulations of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 883/04 and No. 987/09 or the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EU) No. 1231/2010.