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The Problem with Healthcare in Russia

IT'S NOT REALLY FREE! In theory it is, but in reality, it is not. All employed citizens have compulsory insurance plans deducted from their wages but many vital treatments, medications and procedures are not covered by it, nor are those with pre-existing conditions or terminally ill patients.

If a person no longer lives in the region where they are registered, they will have to pay in full.

This affects our crisis centre projects a great deal because most of the residents have travelled from other regions to be there, and sadly many of them arrive in poor health that’s gone unchecked (due to poverty) for a very long time.

When seeking out healthcare it is often necessary to ‘gift’ (bribe) medical practitioners in the hope of getting adequate care.


In Moscow or St Petersburg, Russia’s two most affluential cities, you might reasonably believe that Russia’s healthcare is quite adequate. Outside of these two areas however, hospital infrastructures are in dire states of repair, staffed by people earning little above the poverty line. Poor hygiene, outdated equipment and even inebriated doctors are widely reported. As many as 46% have no central heating or running water, and according to official figures some 17,500 towns and villages have no access to medical care AT ALL.

So, if you live rurally and don’t have private medical insurance (which only 5% of Russians have), chances are, when your health takes a turn for the worse, meeting an enormous bill amounting to years’ worth of your salary, might be your only option.


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