Accessing Healthcare in Latvia

The Latvian capital city of Riga boasts of a bustling art nouveau district, a historic medieval Old Town, and a huge Central Market. There are also water parks and beaches in Jurmala, bungee jumping and bobsleighing in Sigulda, castles and museums in Daugavpils, and concerts and churches in Liepaja, as well as other fascinating attractions. And if you are a citizen of Switzerland, the European Union, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland, you would want to be guaranteed of uninterrupted holiday vacation when you go to Latvia. Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons why holiday vacations can be less than what you’ve hoped for is the occurrence of any untoward medical or healthcare circumstances that necessitate medical care. And if you don’t know how healthcare is accessed in Latvia, you might as well end up with huge medical bills which can, in itself, aggravate your mental health status.

The good thing is that there exists an agreement among member nations of the EU and the European Free Trade Association that guarantees non-discrimination between and among citizens of these countries. This means that whatever public healthcare a citizen in a particular country receives, this same public health care should also be made available and accessible to citizens of other participating countries visiting that country. And since Latvia is a member of the European Union, it is obliged to honor this agreement such that visitors from countries that are signatories to this agreement will receive the same treatment Latvia provides to its citizens. This is the very essence of the European Health Insurance Card, formerly the E111 health card.

The EHIC is what you present to Latvian public health care authorities to receive the same treatment they provide native Latvians.

The Latvian healthcare system is classified into a national or state healthcare system and a private healthcare system. All Latvians can access the national health system but only Latvians with private medical insurance can avail of private medical treatments. In like manner, if you don’t have an EHIC, your only recourse is to obtain treatments from the Latvian private healthcare system. This is quite expensive and as such you need to have your private healthcare insurance to cover the treatments provided in such facilities. However, if you have the EHIC, then you can be guaranteed treatments at the government healthcare and medical facilities.

In case you find yourself requiring emergency medical treatment, you can use your smartphone to freely call 112. You can also seek emergency medical treatment from a national or state hospital as well as a few health centers known locally as Poliklinika. These health centers are open round-the-clock so they should be able to manage your emergency medical condition. Calling 113 will dispatch an ambulance to pick you up while calling 110 will connect you to the Latvian police. If you need to speak to a general practitioner outside official business hours, you can call 661-6001 provided the nature of the call is not a medical emergency.

Latvians typically pay a certain amount that is predetermined by the Latvian national health system every time they avail of publicly funded healthcare services including prescription medications. Dental treatment is not free, however, so you are actually expected to pay for these treatments out from your own pocket. That’s why it always makes sense to have your own travel insurance to cover for those things not guaranteed under the EHI scheme.

The good thing about having an EHIC is that you may actually pay these same fees at a much lower rate than Latvian nationals. Typically, Latvians will be paying a set fee for the following:

  • Seeking a consultation from a general practitioner; however, if the patient is younger than 18 years old, is pregnant, or is actively seeking help related to her pregnancy, the fee is already waived.
  • Prescription medication fees from Latvian pharmacies called
  • Getting admitted into a hospital except in a medical emergency.
  • Staying in a Latvian government hospital; the fee is still considered relatively small compared to what they have in other countries as well as people who don’t have EHIC.

While you may be paying for these fees, too, they are usually no more than 10 Euros. For example, a visit to a general practitioner will only cost you around 1 Euro.

Get your EHIC today with MyEHIC’s fast and easy online services. They can also help facilitate the EHIC application of your entire household so everyone gets to receive their EHI cards. Take advantage of the famed healthcare services of Latvia and ensure a hassle-free holiday vacation.