Health care structure in Estonia
Family doctor (GP)
Family doctor (in Estonian: perearst) is the first person to consult if you fall ill, need a health certificate, prescription medicine etc. You´ll normally get the appointment in a couple of days, in acute cases quicklier.
Health care in schools
Health care service in schools is provided by a nurse and the school health care service is free of charge for children. The school health care service includes the assessment of the state of health and coping of a student; provision, if necessary, of emergency care; notification of a parent of any abnormalities found during a medical examination; referral, if necessary, of a student to the consultation of a family doctor or a medical specialist; and immunisation of a student according to the national immunisation schedule with the written consent of a parent.
To visit a specialist doctor (in Estonian: eriarst), in most cases you need a referral from your family doctor. Referral is not needed if you need to visit psychiatrist, eye specialist, gynaecologist, dermatologist or dentist. You can also find some specialist doctors in private clinics. The waiting lists for the specialist doctors can be long in public clinics, and shorter in private clinics.
Emergency care (in Estonian: kiirabi) is free of charge, but with visit fee 5 euros for anyone and provides round-the-clock access for patients seeking emergency treatment (including primary trauma patients and women who are in labour). No visit fee is requested from pregnant women and children under 2 years of age. You can go to TU hospital´s emergency room which address is L. Puusepa 8, G1 building, I floor (see on the map) or in very urgent cases you can call the ambulance on general emergency number 112.
The entrance to emergency room is from left side of the building
Hospital treatment of persons covered by health insurance is paid for by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (except nursing care which is covered by 85%). The patient themselves pays 2.50 euros of the in-patient fee for up to 10 days of their stay in hospital. No in-patient fee is asked in the event of hospital treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth and from persons under 18 years of age. Persons not covered by health insurance pay for their hospital treatment themselves.
Family doctor helpline
In cases of unexpected or minor health issues you can also contact the Estonian family physicians statewide advisory line by dialling 1220. The service is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but assistance is by default provided in Estonian and Russian, so you might want to have someone speaking these languages next to you. However, there´s a chance that the particular doctor on duty will speak English - so you can still try. When calling from a stationary telephone (landline) then first 5 minutes are free of charge, otherwise standard rates apply. Calls made from a cellphone are charged at standard service provider rates.
In cases of unexpected or minor issues in childbirth, pregnancy or women´s health in general you can contact the Estonian midwife statewide advisory line here. You can call 12252 or have a live chat with a professional midwife. The services is available 24/7 and you need to pay small amount for the consultation.
More information about primary healthcare in Estonia can be found here
If you work in Estonia, you might be insured by Esonian Health Insurance Fund. In this case visiting the public health care provider is either free (family doctor) or costs 5 eur/visit (specialist doctor). If you visit private health care provider, check if they have a contract with Estonian Health Insurance Fund and whether the service you need is covered by the contract. You can also find all service providers that have contract with Estonian Health Insurance Fund here. If you do not know if you have Estonian insurance, you can check it at www.eesti.ee or by calling to Estonian Health Insurance Fund, +372 669 6630.
If you are from an EU/EEA country or from UK and you are insured back home, your insurance is also valid in Estonia. To use this insurance you need to have your EU Health Insurance Card (for citizens from UK a GHIC card) with you, additionally you will need your ID. This gives you same rights with persons insured in Estonia. Check with your health care service back home if you do not know how to get it. Read more about EHIC/GHIC cards in Schengen area here.
If you have your private insurance (eg Swisscare, Ergo, travel insurance etc) you normally have to pay yourself first (at least if the amounts are not huge) and then get refunded, but check with your insurance provider.
In some cases you can get help without insurance: mostly in emergency situations, but there are also options to get help from family doctors when you are officially a citizen of Tartu. For more information you can contact Tartu City Government Health Care Service: [email protected], +372 736 1321 or +372 736 1322.
Family doctors (GP)
Why you should get a family doctor?
If you plan to stay in Tartu for a longer period (e.g. you are student and you stay for more than one semester), it is reasonable to find your own family doctor. The best is to register with a family doctor as soon as you have settled down in Tartu – it is easier to do the paperwork and make the first contact with your doctor while you are in good health rather than starting searching for one when you are already ill and you might want to have quick access and not wait too long.
You will nearly always need to book an appointment time ahead to visit your doctor!
**If you stay in Tartu for a short period (for example just a few months), you can also ask the doctor if s/he could make an appointment without registering you to the directory. One of the doctors who agrees to help you without registering to her directory, is doctor Tiiu Tootsi. You can get in touch with her by phone ( call +372 745 5187) or sending e-mail to [email protected].
If you need more information about primary healthcare in Tartu, you can contact Tartu Health Care Service: [email protected], +372 736 1321 or +372 736 1322.
How to register with a family doctor in Tartu ?
To register with family doctor you need to do following steps:
Choose any doctor from the list of family doctors and get in touch with the doctor of your choice (for example, the doctor who is closer to your home or school). Contact the doctor and ask if s/he has free place in their directory and agree to accept you. Be prepared that not all doctors or receptionists speak a foreign language. It is up to the doctor to agree to accept you. Some doctors might not accept a new person, and it might happen for different reasons. The doctor might not be sure of their English or his/her list is full or s/he might reject because dealing with private insurance means double work compared to national health insurance.
To see doctors who have free places in their directory, visit the Estonian Health Board registry (web page in Estonian language).
If the doctor accepts you, fill in the application here, sign it and bring it to the doctor when you go there for the first time. The application should be in Estonian language. You will find a specimen with comments here.
If you have questions about primary healthcare that you can not find answers for, you are welcome to contact Tartu Health Care Service: [email protected], +372 736 1321 or +372 736 1322.
If you have no health insurance but you are the citizen of Tartu, you have the right to get primary healthcare for free. Please contact for more information Tartu Health Care Service (contacts above).
Making an appointment
If you need to visit your family doctor or nurse, always book your appointment ahead by calling or sending an e-mail in case you don´t have different agreement with your doctor.
Always let your doctor or nurse know when you have booked an appointment but you cannot go.
You´ll normally get the appointment in a couple of days - or in acute cases quicklier.
Be on time for the appointment! If you miss your appointment, sometimes even by some 5-10 minutes, your doctor might not be able to accept you since s/he will have next patient waiting or other schedules coming up! Then you´ll have to start from the beginning and get a new appointment.
If your family doctor is on holidays, s/he will be replaced by another doctor. Information about family doctors´ holidays and replacements can be found here.
A family doctor’s visit is free of charge if you are insured by Estonian Health Fund or you have a valid EU Health Insurance card - then the billing is automatic between doctor and the insurance fund. If you have private insurance, you will normally have to pay yourself first. Upon the payment, you receive an invoice which you then take to the insurance company and claim a refund. What is covered by your insurance depends of the company you are insured with, so check with them. In some cases the family doctor can send the bill directly to your insurance company. Check with the doctor: explain what type of insurance you do have and ask, whether you have to pay first yourself or not.
Dental care is free of charge for children up to 19 years of age when insured by Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Always ask your dental care provider, whether they have contract with Estonian Health Insurance Fund and which services are covered.
For adults and for people on private insurance, the dental care is not free. However, adults who work in Estonia and thus are covered by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund can get some financial support when visiting dentists: dental care is covered by
(1) up to 40 euros per year for adults,
(2) up to 85 euros per year for pregnant women and women with child up to 1 year of age and (3) up to 85 euros per year for people over 63 years of age or unable to work.
However, not all dentists have a contract with Estonian Health Insurance Fund, so even if you have Estonian public insurance you may have to pay fully for dental care. You can find doctors who have contracts with Estonian Health Insurance Fund (i.e. you can claim the financial support if you are insured and your children under 19 can have it free of charge) here.
Always ask your dental care provider, whether s/he has a contract with Estonian Health Insurance Fund and which services are covered. To get the most relevant and appropriate information, visit the web page of the dentist or give a call.
If you are insured by a private company, always ask whether and on what conditions dental care is covered by the contract
Medicinal products and pharmacies
Drugstore sell both non-prescription and prescription medicinal products.
Non-prescription medicinal products include, for example vitamins, slight painkillers, pills to ease stomach problems, day after pills to prevent pregnancy etc. You do not need a prescription from the doctor to buy non-prescription medications. You can always ask for advice from the pharmacist to help to choose the best medication to heal your condition. All non-prescription medical products are paid for by the person in full.
Prescription medicinal products include, for example, antibiotics, medicinal products for certain chronic diseases (e.g. medicinal products for diabetes, high blood pressure etc) and contraceptive hormone preparations. In order to buy prescription medicinal products, you need a prescription (either on paper or digitally) from a family doctor or a specialist doctor. Persons covered by Estonian health insurance can buy prescription medicinal products entered in the reimbursement list at a discount of 50%, 75%, 90% or 100%. When insured by a private company, check with your insurance company.
Not all medications are available in Estonia that might be available in other countries. Check the medications available in Estonia and compare the prices of different drugstores here (webpage in Estonian language).
Find the closest drugstore to you here.
Raekoja pharmacy is opened 24/7 and situated at Town Hall.
Healthcare in Arabic language
Arabic translation has been made under the “Exchange of information by Department of Social Welfare and Health Care of Tartu City Government about public services” project of the Department of Social Welfare and Health Care of Tartu City Government and is co-financed by the European Union through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Estonia.