Romania has a state-funded health system, and a slowly emerging private sector, which has seen some major changes in the last seven years. According to Euromonitor, Romania’s expenditures on medical services and goods have more than doubled since 2002, and their have been marked improvements in the system as a whole. Still, the quality of healthcare is quite low by European standards, particularly in rural areas. Additionally, a few newborn babies were killed in 2010 in a fire in a famous maternity clinic- it was a shock for the whole country!
In recent years, hospitals have also seen shortages of staff, which have gone to other European countries to work. Furthermore, the typical ‘informal payments’ for higher quality care, even for basic services, are very much still a reality, and many people consider doctors in public healthcare to be corrupt. But it is not only doctors; it is nurses, porters, assistants and anaesthesiologists as well. Here is one explanation to help put it in perspective: The tradition of gift-giving for good services is very old in Romania, but the average salaries in the public healthcare industry as a whole have not seen growth comparable to averages in other sectors (even specialists will sometimes only earn EUR 350 per month), and these gifts have become an expected norm. This trend of corruption and low wages also helps to explain the staff shortages, and the cycle continues.
The private healthcare system has begun to help change the situation, but only very slowly. With Romanians’ increasing incomes the private health insurance industry has started to grow, as well as the number of private clinics and hospitals; this is especially true in Bucharest where most of the growth is occurring. In most cases, you are probably not too far from a clinic that is up to ‘Western standards’.
The following overview gives information about general practice as well as specialty clinics.
If you are employed with a Romanian labor contract and have public insurance, new rules have been established: each person has to go to a doctor who sets up the patient’s medical file, and is responsible for everything the patient needs. Everyone is free to pick their own doctor, but must go to that doctor first for all issues, and when necessary, wait for their submission sheet for specialists and hospitals. If you are uncertain in dealing with the public healthcare system, it is best simply to ask a lot of questions. It is not the case that it is impossible to find quality healthcare in the public sector, you may just have to look a bit harder and perhaps pay a bit more.