Handling Healthcare Abroad

As one of the clumsiest people with a relatively terrible immune system (maybe I’m being a littleee dramatic), going abroad sounded like a fairly questionable choice for me. Of course, I wanted to experience new cultures and take advantage of the opportunity to travel around Europe, but the thought of potentially having to get medical care in an unfamiliar area where I didn’t speak the language had me slightly worried. Long story short, within the span of one month of being in Prague, I managed to hurt my knee, get sick for several weeks, and acquire 2nd degree burns (ouch); as a result, I’ve gotten quite a lot of experience from my various visits to different doctors and hospitals. With that said, the medical care system in Prague hasn’t failed me yet, and I’d like to give a rundown about doctor appointments, insurance, and other things I’ve picked up along the way.

So for a minor cold or injury that doesn’t need immediate medical attention, you can easily make an appointment with a doctor from one of the English-speaking facilities that accepts our GeoBlue insurance. Between the two I’ve been to so far (Canadian Medical Care and Unicare), Canadian Medical has been my favorite; the facility was one of the most modern looking ones I’ve been to so far in Prague. GeoBlue Students are supposed to have the GeoBlue insurance app downloaded on their phones, and through it, you can schedule a doctor appointment. However, I recommend calling one of the facilities directly, as it could take days— or in my case, weeks— before the facilities or GeoBlue will respond to requests done through the app. After calling and scheduling an appointment, it’s very important to call GeoBlue to request a guarantee of payment. You simply call the number provided through the app, let them know your certificate number on your insurance card, date of birth, date and location of the appointment, and reason for going. GeoBlue will then email you a guarantee of payment, and you’re all set! Don’t forget, if you’re new to a facility, you’ll have to fill out paperwork either before or upon arrival, so keep that in mind for timing your visit.

For more serious injuries or illnesses, you shouldn’t have to worry about figuring things out yourself. We have great Czech-speaking RAs who are trained to help you, as I realized in my own experience. For hospital visits, we’re provided with a different insurance called Uniqa. A warning though: we’re given the Uniqa insurance card when we arrive in Prague, and you need to make sure to NOT misplace this card! I almost did, but thankfully after searching through mounds of papers in and on my desk, I managed to find it. From there, the RA-on-Duty took me to the hospital, translated everything for me, and made sure I got the proper care I needed.

Finally, there are pharmacies located all over Prague for any prescribed or over-the-counter medications. My favorite pharmacy near Machova is the BENU Lékárna in Prague 2, near the IP Pavlova tram station. I’ve been there multiple times, and unlike some pharmacies I’ve been to, the employees speak English, saving me from having to pull up Google Translate every time I had to ask for something. Another thing to note is that not all pharmacies have a wide variety of things in stock, but so far this pharmacy has had everything I needed.

All in all, there’s no need to worry too much about traveling and dealing with injuries abroad. I wouldn’t say I was the most independent person before coming abroad, but having to figure out insurance, appointments, and treatments pushed me to be more self-sufficient and feel prepared to take on Europe on my own. It may not be a fun part of a study abroad experience, but it shouldn’t be one to stress about either. I hope this article can help ease anyone’s worries about medical care abroad!

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