The State System
Healthcare in Ukraine is funded almost entirely by general government revenues; this fund makes up 7.4 percent of the fund. 3.2 percent of the fund is made up by social insurance contributions from the wages of the employed and 3.3 percent is funded by private clinics and their private patients. Dependant family members are covered by the contributions paid by employed family members. The unemployed, old age pensioners and people on long-term sickness benefit or maternity leave have to pay healthcare contributions but not as much as an employed citizen. Foreigners immigrating to Ukraine without jobs must produce proof of private health insurance in order to obtain their residence permit.
If you are self-employed, you need to get additional insurance to cover members of your family and you must pay the full contribution to cover yourself.
The state fund covers most medical services including treatment by specialists, hospitalisation, prescriptions, pregnancy and childbirth and rehabilitation.
The state, in theory provides free healthcare for its citizens and long term residents who become ill; however this is a serious problem for many parts of the country. Doctors’ wages are extremely low and often ask for a fee. This makes healthcare difficult, as many citizens are on a low income.
Doctors and Health Centres
Doctors are known as a likar and are the first point of contact with the Ukrainian health system. Citizens can register with the doctor of their choice, however, people seeking state medical care must make sure that their doctor is contracted into the health scheme. If you are treated by a doctor whether or not the doctor is covered by the state you will have to pay a fee.
GPs prescribe drugs, treat acute and chronic illnesses, and provide preventive care and health education.
Waiting times to see doctors vary and it is advised that you make an appointment in advance. If you need urgent help, you may go to the doctors surgery on speculation, but be prepared for a long wait.
Health centres in Ukraine are in an extremely poor state. The medical facilities are of a poor standard compared to Western standards; the medical equipment and facilities are in short supply compared to the high demand. All services, including doctors and nurses cost a lot of money which makes health care in health centres not always a feasible option for the ordinary citizen. The doctors and nurses who work in the health centres are not always fully trained in the health system.
Consultants are senior doctors who have completed a higher level of specialised training. GPs refer patients to a Consultant if he believes that a patient may need specialist help and diagnosis. There are very few consultants in Ukraine, which therefore makes a high waiting list to see the Consultant doctors. The consultants are no different to a doctor in terms of them still asking for a fee, normally higher than a normal doctor due to their higher level medical skills.
Hospitals and clinics exist in all major towns and cities of Ukraine, but are nowhere near the standard which is required in Ukraine. Hospitals are dirty and the level of care in extremely low due to staff shortages. Patients are admitted to hospital either through the emergency department or through a referral by their doctor. Once a patient is admitted treatment is controlled by one of the hospital doctors. All hospital doctors require a fee which makes hospitalisation difficult for its citizens. Doctors and nurses are in short supply due to low wages which is resulting in doctors and nurses going abroad and offering their services. There may be a waiting list for some non-emergency treatments and services.
Emergency care is supposedly to be free for everyone including those without state health insurance. However, once your condition is stabilised the doctor will probably ask for a fee for their services due to the low wages that the state provides. Emergency departments are open non-stop all year. You may use their services if you need immediate attention, or if your GP refers you to them, or if there is no GP service available.
There are a few private practices in Ukraine which are provided by independent office-based doctors and specialists. The premises are funded largely by private insurance contributions, but it is used only by a small minority of people, often as a top up to the basic state healthcare and to cover them for the services deemed non-essential. The private hospitals are cleaner and the comfort factor is a lot higher than a state hospital, there are no waiting lists, but then there is a higher fee, which is not always a feasible option for the ordinary citizen.
Dental care in Ukraine is expensive and not very many citizens can afford the dental care that is necessary, all dentist services are private in Ukraine. Dentists are known as a zubnyy likar. Dentists can be found in major cities of Ukraine normally where the income of the citizens are of the amount where they can afford dental care.
Dispensing chemists known as an apteka sell medicines in Ukraine. Prescriptions known as prypysannia are generally not needed to buy medicines, which are normally tightly monitored in Western countries. There are many pharmacies throughout Ukraine and the cost of medicine from a pharmacy can be expensive as there is no monitoring of drug prices. Many pharmacies in the major cities are open 24 hours, so there is always access to pharmacy medicines.