Updated 9 months ago

Russia is known to have a two-tier healthcare system. There is a huge gap between those who can access to private healthcare services and those who depend on the public healthcare system. As a result, compulsory health insurance was introduced in 1996. Both expats and Russian nationals have to subscribe to health insurance which provides free healthcare. However, the Russian healthcare system still suffers from a lack of modern equipment and qualified staff.

Health care services

Healthcare services are provided in polyclinics, hospitals and medical centres. Polyclinics are healthcare institutes located in every district where you are likely to get screening facilities and receive treatment for chronic diseases, along with specialised treatment such as oncology, obstetrics, etc.. As regards medical centres, these provide basic healthcare services such as vaccination, dressings, routine health checks, etc..

On the other hand, specialised hospitals are accessible 24/7 in major Russian cities. All types of healthcare services are provided there. Local hospitals specialise respectively in basic surgery, infectious diseases and childbirth.

Health insurance

Foreigners coming from countries having a developed and modern healthcare system will likely find the standard of care lower in Russia. You may choose to visit European and American hospitals in big cities, which offer higher quality services or at least closer to what you are used to if you come from a developed country. Moreover, all their staff are hired on the basis of training and studying abroad and speaking several European languages.

However, services and treatments in those hospitals are much more expensive than in local polyclinics. Hence, you may subscribe to additional health insurance which may allow you to receive treatment abroad in case of serious illness. Frequent travellers may subscribe to expat insurance. You will also be covered in other countries. Note that you will be eligible for reimbursement as from the first payment.

You may also subscribe to local insurance once you are in Russia. This will allow you to benefit from private healthcare services for free. The latter are of better quality and can quickly become very expensive without health insurance.


The Pasteur Institute recommends the following vaccines to foreigners travelling to Russia:

  • diphtheria
  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • poliomyelitis
  • tetanus
  • typhoid
  • TBE: recommended for stays in the forest zone (campers, forestry workers).

 Good to know:

Foreigners who are planning to stay in Russia for more than three months have to provide a negative HIV/AIDS screening test result in order to apply for a visa.


Avoid drinking tap water in Russia.

Foreigners working in Russia are eligible for the social welfare scheme.

Russian universities offer special tariffs to foreign students who wish to subscribe to local student health insurance. For such insurance in Moscow’s universities, a yearly subscription will cost from 100 dollars.

Beware of the poor quality of medication available in the country, as well as counterfeit medical products which are very frequent. In pharmacies, prefer foreign made medication to medication made in Russia. Finally, note that whatever health insurance you decide to subscribe to, it will not cover medication. The latter always remains at your full charge, unlike in many European countries.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Health Care of the Russian Federation
WHO – Russia
Cigna Global

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