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Navigating Healthcare in Albania: A Guide for Expats

Discover the essentials of Albania's healthcare system for expats: from insurance options to accessing medical services, get peace of mind with our guide.

Albania is becoming a popular spot for expats. Its beautiful landscapes, affordable living costs, and welcoming people make it an attractive destination for many. 

However, moving to this country requires getting familiar with its healthcare system and health insurance choices. This is super important, especially for expats who most likely don’t know how things operate in this setting.

Knowing how to access medical care and what insurance covers, definitely gives peace of mind. That’s why today, at Magic Towns Albania we are covering a very important topic that gets asked about a lot: the healthcare scene.

Overview of Healthcare in Albania

The healthcare system in Albania consists of both public and private sectors. Public healthcare is provided by the government, while private healthcare services are available for those who prefer or can afford them. 

Private doctors and specialists are accessible, although they often come with high costs, while in public care visits and checkups are free even with specialists.

The usual cost for a general visit to a private doctor/specialist is around €30, which may go higher if additional tests need to be done. 

Quality and Availability of Healthcare

Healthcare services in Albania vary in quality and availability across different regions. Main hospitals are typically located in major cities (like Tirana, Durrës) while smaller towns may have community clinics. Those living outside major population centers may find that medical facilities and services are more limited compared to urban areas.

Health Insurance Providers

There are several national and international health insurance providers in Albania. National providers include companies like Albsig, and Sigal (read more about their packages in the health insurance section below), while international players like Cigna also operate in the country.

Insurance policies range from simple and cheap options, often used to meet residency requirements, to full-coverage plans that offer comprehensive benefits.

If you’re looking for a health insurance policy in Albania in order to apply for a residency permit, you can get an instant quote now from our partner Albsig.

Healthcare Options in Neighboring Countries

Many residents in Albania opt for healthcare services in neighbouring countries like Italy and Greece, particularly for specialized treatments not available locally. Some insurance policies cover hospitalization abroad for treatments unavailable in Albania, providing residents with additional healthcare options beyond the country’s borders. 

Different companies offer private care outside of Albania, and the treatment outside is not connected to a certain healthcare plan but to the provider of the service and the network he has out of Albania. 

Accessing Healthcare Services

Albania has two different healthcare providers:

1- The State, all people who are residents in Albania and are in a working relationship being that self-employed/ employed or business owners all have to pay healthcare insurance to the state monthly. This is paid together with the employer. This gives every Albanian resident the possibility to access public healthcare services for free, which are all the public hospitals all over Albania.

2- Private companies, which specialize in this service. Many companies provide different packages of healthcare and different amounts of coverage inside and outside Albania, and this is done through private hospitals and clinics. 

Important note: Having state healthcare doesn’t mean you can use private hospitals for free, and having private healthcare doesn’t grant you access to public hospitals at no cost. So, the service that will be received depends on the chosen plan. Interested individuals can have both if they want to be fully covered.

There are no agreements with other countries in Albania for healthcare insurance to be accepted; the only ones are the above-mentioned methods which have to be obtained in Albania or from the State. 

Eligibility for healthcare services may depend on factors such as employment status or payment of contributions in Albania. 

Finding Healthcare Providers

To find doctors, specialists, and hospitals, expats can ask for recommendations from locals or other expats, search online directories, or visit clinics directly. Both public and private sectors offer healthcare services, with public facilities typically requiring less out-of-pocket expenses.

Language Barriers and English-speaking Professionals

Language barriers may exist when accessing healthcare services in Albania, as Albanian is the primary language. This is mostly true for public health services.

In the private health system, English/ Italian is a requirement for people working in these institutions so communication is not a problem. 

Many private insurance companies and also other medical care clinics do provide what is called phone consultation with doctors, which is a paid service that you can buy and access from your home. 

Health Insurance Options for Expats

All expats travelling/ living in Albania are advised to have health insurance coverage. If they are not in a working relationship with an Albanian-based company, which can help them pay the state health insurance contribution, then they need to have a private health insurance package. 

Anyone can apply for a private healthcare plan and decide which one they want to get based on the provided alternatives. 

These are the packages Albsig offers:

  1. Albsig Economic covers private hospital stays in Albania up to €10,000, starting from €450 per year.
  2. Albsig Basic offers up to €20,000 coverage for private hospitalization in Albania, starting at €500 annually.
  3. Albsig Standard provides coverage up to €25,000 for private hospital stays in Albania, starting from €550 per year.
  4. Albsig Superior ensures coverage up to €30,000 for private hospitalization in Albania, starting at €610 yearly.
  5. Albsig Silver presents comprehensive coverage up to €50,000 for private hospital stays in Albania, starting from €760 annually.

These are the packages Sigal offers:

  1. Sigal offers insurance plans for “Live and Travel in Albania” with coverage ranging from €5,000 to €10,000 depending on the number of days, starting at 1-5 days and increasing gradually up to 181-365 days for individuals aged 0-65 years.
  2. The insurance includes coverage for emergency medical expenses and medical repatriation/evacuation for individuals aged 0-65 years.
  3. For individuals aged 65-80 years, Sigal provides emergency medical expense coverage for various durations ranging from 10 to 100 days.

The alternatives may vary in age, medical history, and needs all of which are provided to the company that provides with your healthcare package alternatives. 

Comparison of Public and Private Health Insurance

The public health insurance system in Albania provides basic coverage for essential healthcare services, with costs partially covered by the government. However, public healthcare facilities may have limitations in terms of quality and availability of services.

Private health insurance offers more comprehensive coverage, including access to a wider network of doctors, specialists, and hospitals, as well as additional benefits such as shorter waiting times and more personalized care. However, private insurance often comes with higher premiums and may not be affordable for everyone.

Note: The private medical care is mainly offered in Tirana and very few in other major cities, which makes it difficult to access from everywhere while public care is everywhere.

Guidance on Selecting Health Insurance Policies

When selecting health insurance policies, expats should consider their specific healthcare needs and preferences. Coverage considerations relevant to this demographic may include repatriation coverage for emergency medical evacuation or transportation back to their home country in case of serious illness or injury.

Other important considerations include coverage for pre-existing conditions, access to English-speaking medical professionals, and coverage for emergency medical expenses incurred while travelling outside Albania.

It’s essential to carefully review policy terms and conditions, compare coverage options, and seek guidance from insurance professionals or advisors if needed before making a decision.

Practical Tips for Navigating Healthcare in Albania

For expats, maintaining good health in Albania begins with getting recommended vaccinations before travelling. Vaccinations for diseases like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus are often advised. Additionally, practising good hygiene, drinking safe water, and avoiding consuming uncooked foods can help prevent common illnesses.

Managing Prescription Medications

To manage prescription medications as an expat in Albania, it’s essential to consult with a local doctor to obtain prescriptions. Medications are generally available at pharmacies, but some may require a doctor’s prescription. 

The cost of medication varies depending on factors such as the type of medicine and whether it’s covered by insurance. While the state may subsidize some medication costs, patients often bear a significant portion of the expense. It’s important to check with insurance providers to see if medication costs are covered under the policy. Common over-the-counter medicines may range from a few dollars to around €10.

Private insurance companies do cover usually medicines but this depends on the case and the state will not cover them if one doesn’t have public healthcare insurance.

Importance of Local Contacts

Having a local contact or network can be invaluable for healthcare-related assistance and recommendations in Albania. This contact can provide insights into navigating the healthcare system, recommend reputable doctors or medical facilities, and assist with language barriers when communicating with healthcare providers. Building a network of trusted contacts ensures expats have access to reliable healthcare information and support when needed.

Conclusion

Through this valuable guide, we wanted to share some important advice on healthcare in Albania expats, including public and private alternatives.

If you have any further questions, you can always ask in our Facebook group or chat with Magic AI.

For further information and helpful resources on living in Albania as an expat, you can explore:

Americans in Albania: A Guide for US Expats and Retirees on Benefits, Tax and Living Costs

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Albania in 2024 (Prices)

Renter’s Market: Properties For Rent Across Albania For Less Than €500

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