Blog - Medical insurance

Added on Wednesday, 2010-10-06 21:13 CEST in category Moscow
When I got hired by the Moscow office of Parallels, one of the perks was the so-called Доброволбное Медицинское Страхование ("DMS", or "voluntary medical insurance").

Everyone registered in Russia, even if only temporarily on a visa, has the right for free healthcare, called Обязательное Медицинское Страхование ("OMS", or "obligatory medical insurance"), but usually the lines are long and the hospitals and equipment old and worn.

DMS on the other hand is not paid for by taxes, but by companies, and thus the lines are practically non-existent (very handy with a 40 hour workweek), the hospitals and equipment are all modern and new, and the doctors are paid well enough to be able to afford being all nice to you. (Doctors in OMS hospitals go there mainly for the research and higher prestige, not for the money.) This also means they will actually pick up the phone when you call them.

The system is somewhat comparable to the old "ziekenfonds" (=OMS)/"particulier"(=DMS) health care system in the Netherlands, with the big difference that here having DMS does not depend on your salary, and you also have OMS. The latter can come in handy when a certain needed specialist works in an OMS hospital, which is quite often the case with highly trained/specialized medical personnel.

When you fall ill as an employee, not only do you have to notify your employer of this, you also need to have a doctor come over to examine you. The doctor will prescribe you a particular treatment, which often includes a very large dose of all kinds of different medicines:


I kid you not. This is seriously what I'm taking. While in Western Europe there's more of an attitude of letting the body heal itself, what else have you got your immune system for after all?, in Russia they prefer not to take chances and just stuff you with anything that may help. It even gets to the point that you are prescribed medicines that take care of the side effects of other medicines. And of course, medicines are not free…

The doctor will also give you a statement that you are indeed ill, and that you are given a number of days to recover (usually five). During this period you are not supposed to leave the house, and are not even allowed to go back to work, even though you may already have fully recovered. After this period of a few days, you go to the hospital to either extend this period if you're still ill, or to "check out". Once you've checked out, you can go back to work, and finally there you have to hand in the statement proving that you indeed were ill.