True Lithuania

Healthcare in Lithuania

Healthcare of Lithuania is of a formidable standard with numbers of doctors per 1000 people larger than in most Western societies. Hospitals are well-equipped to perform even the most difficult surgeries. The doctors are well-trained and sought-after by Western hospitals.

For Lithuanians and people of the European Union, most medical services are free of charge. However, corruption is rampant, meaning that a person with relationships among doctors (or a bribe) may get a preferential treatment bypassing the queues (which may get long, depending on location and procedure). This used to be the norm in the Soviet Union when all goods and services were, in theory, equal-to-all but, in reality, depended on bribes and relationships; today such practices are declining.

Adverts against corruption in the Vilnius clinics. The signs, aimed both at doctors and patients and available on many cabinet doors, declare: 'Do you want to show gratitude to the doctor? Please [just] say THANK YOU', 'The best gratitude to your doctor is your smile' and 'I follow the Hippocratic Oath, therefore I avoid patient disinformation and corruption'. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

This, as well as the Soviet "patient-is-always-wrong" attitudes in some public hospitals (also declining), makes a part of the population to pay the full price at the private clinics (even though they are still subjected to massive compulsory public healthcare taxes). The likelihood of choosing a "private doctor" heavily depends on the medical services needed: nearly everybody visits a private dentist or gynecologist just as nearly everybody uses the public hospitals for major surgeries. For a foreigner, the private hospitals may be less of a hassle in all cases especially if one has an insurance coverage for them. Even without such coverage, many procedures may be cheaper in Lithuania than the West. Lithuanian emigrants come back to perform non-urgent medical procedures (dentistry, plastic surgery) and there is already some medical tourism into Lithuania.

If you choose public hospitals the best ones (and the largest) are in Vilnius and Kaunas.

Lithuania has a wide range of health resorts and spas, especially in Druskininkai resort. These tend to vary in quality from Soviet-level facilities (sometimes still state-owned) to modern facilities (private), therefore do your research before committing spending a week somewhere. Like with hospitals, often it is the attitudes of the personnel that makes the difference (rather than the quality of the procedures, which may be good everywhere).

People enjoying a free relaxation in the Birštonas spa resort. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

There is generally no need to get any vaccination before going to Lithuania. Major infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV are extremely rare.

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