If you are currently in Georgia trying to ensure your residence here is safe and sound, in this article we will cover the strengths and weaknesses of the healthcare system in Georgia, identify the issues the foreigners may face, and suggest the best services one can get in the medical sector in Georgia.
Georgia’s Medical System: How It Works
Georgia has a hybrid healthcare system, with public and private medical systems operating side by side.
In 2013, the Georgian government established the Universal Health Coverage Program (UHCP). UHCP aims to provide some level of coverage for primary healthcare, specialist care, and necessary medication. However, the scope of coverage is limited. Certain vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, young children under five years old, and people with disabilities, have 100% of their costs covered by the UHCP, but only for select medical services. In reality, the UHCP fully pays expenses solely related to emergency treatment and visits to general doctors. For the rest of the citizens and specific treatments, state funding is limited to the 30% of cost coverage, forcing patients to pay high out-of-pocket costs, which can impede access to medical care. To take advantage of the program, one must select and officially register with a specific healthcare facility.
The access to healthcare also prominently varies in urban and rural areas of the country. In case of an emergency, the proper treatment is available only near the major cities, leaving the rural citizens with limited access to medical help.
Despite having a state-funded healthcare program, Georgia’s medical system highly relies on private medical facilities, moving from the Soviet type of healthcare, the Semashko model, to a relatively modern, American-like practice. In fact, 86% of Georgian hospitals are privately owned, shared between insurance companies and individual owners.
However, this system is applicable for the citizens of Georgia exclusively. When it comes to foreigners, there are some specificities essential to mention.
Healthcare for Foreigners in Georgia
For foreign citizens, the basic checkup will cost around GEL 380 (USD 140). The hospital treatment costs around GEL 1000 (USD 370). The fees for dental services start from GEL 40-100 (USD 15-40) for a general appointment with additional payment for subsequent treatment: the teeth filling would cost around GEL 375-750 (USD 140-280) and the prices for implantation start with GEL 1260 (USD 467).
Is There an Insurance for Foreign Citizens?
For foreign citizens, any medical service in Georgia should be financed by personal expenses or private medical insurance. Meanwhile, the prices of healthcare increased dramatically in the last 5 years.
Hence, the most optimal option for non-citizens of Georgia is to obtain a private medical insurance either before entering the country or after arriving in Georgia.
The following general conditions work for the majority of insurance companies:
- The insurance agreement is usually signed for a 12-month period.
- Compensation is provided upfront at the signing for the first and last months, with the following payments distributed monthly.
- If a payment is late, temporary access suspension is possible until receipt of funds. Note that the payment for the last month only applies to the last month covered in the contract – it will not offset any late fees accrued.
Major Medical Insurances
There are many options available to choose among the insurance providers. Each provider has specific tariffs, terms, and conditions. The compensation for medicine and doctor appointments varies from 20% to 80%. Here the list with the few major ones:
All of the companies allow online registration for the insurance, which takes no longer than several minutes, and have a wide variety of options for any specific need.
Where can Foreigners Find Treatment in Georgia?
As already mentioned, there is a choice between private and public medical institutions in Georgia. The prices of the services differ, and so does the quality of the treatment. It is a common practice to find a good specialist through the “word-of-mouth,” asking acquaintances about their personal experiences with the doctors. However, we collected some tested hospitals you can address to.
American Hospital Tbilisi (AHT)
American Hospital Tbilisi provides services adhering to international standards. The hospital utilizes a contemporary governance model centered around high-quality patient care. The hospital obtains the accreditation of Joint Commission International (JCI). The Joint Commission International is an independent, non-profit organization that evaluates healthcare institutions worldwide. It bestows accreditation upon those meeting high standards. JCI accreditation is recognized as a worldwide healthcare quality and patient safety leader.
Curatio was launched in 2002 with a focus on primary care services. Its initial priority was establishing family doctors, the primary care physicians (PCPs). The goal of the PCP program was to provide the population continuous medical care from an early stage to identify potential health risks early on. Detecting issues promptly aims to prevent future health problems. The organization emphasizes a financially sustainable model centered on patient needs, choices, and vulnerability.
BAU International Hospital
BAU’s guiding purpose is to elevate medical standards by training new generations of practitioners and pioneering innovative treatments on par with the world’s foremost institutions. The hospital also offers a full range of laboratory diagnostics engineered for unparalleled accuracy.
Note: Almost all insurance companies listed above work with the hospitals from this list unless the specific tariff/insurance provider you choose mentions exclusive cooperation with a particular hospital.
Dentistry in Georgia: Welcoming the Foreigners
On the bright side, Georgia has a strong dental practice and foreigners often choose the country as a destination for dental tourism. The prices of dental services in Georgia are moderate compared to the regional and European standards, and the quality of the procedures is relatively high.
Dental education in Georgia follows a standard five-year program, similar to other European countries. Upon graduating, new dentists are qualified to practice general dentistry. However, those seeking specialized careers like implantology, oral surgery, and other disciplines require additional training.
Private dental clinics have modern facilities with advanced technologies for accurate diagnosis and efficient care. 3D imaging and computer-aided design/manufacturing ensure precise treatment planning. International patients will find the high quality of care matches their home standards, yet costs are much lower due to the lower cost of living in the country.
The dental sphere also become increasingly popular among international students. Almost all universities with medical faculties provide the dental programs for the students. The tuition varies, depending on the institution. You can check our review of the top universities in Georgia to study medicine.
Regarding the healthcare system, Georgia took the atypical path. It simultaneously develops public and private healthcare systems, though it places a prominent focus on the private sphere, encouraging investment and private medical businesses.
The public healthcare works exclusively for the citizens of Georgia, though it is limited even for them. Hence, private insurance is critically important for both locals and foreigners. The wide variety of insurance companies makes it relatively easy to secure one’s life. However, the options for the non-citizens are, again, slightly limited in terms of the organization of the payment process.
On the bright side, Georgia is a good destination for finding dental services. The sphere is rapidly developing and can suggest to both locals and foreigners a decent service for a moderate price.