As an expat working, studying or just living in Estonia, have you experienced difficulty finding medical help from a doctor who speaks your language? How about registering with a general practitioner (family doctor) who speaks English? Or have you just been frustrated with how difficult, inconvenient or expensive it is to access medical help here? If this sounds familiar, then this article is for you.
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Getting settled in Estonia
Whether you’ve just set foot in Estonia or have already been here for a few weeks, you know you are warmly welcome here. As you know, there are exciting times ahead when arriving at a new place. But, unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan, especially if it concerns your health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for potentially difficult times. Don’t wait until the last minute and search for help when stressed out. Especially if you have kids, the last thing you or they need is to be running around the country trying to find a doctor instead of resting at home.
You can read our quick guide to get a sense of the basics of the Estonian health-care system. For your convenience, it also includes a list of emergency rooms so you can find the closest one to you when you’re in trouble.
Health-care services can be divided into two categories – primary and specialty health care. Primary health care is provided by general practitioners (or family doctors in Estonia), and specialty care is offered by doctors from specific areas like neurology, gynaecology or other specialists. According to the World Health Organisation, up to 90% of all health needs are solved at the primary health-care level. Therefore, if you want to have peace of mind that you’re covered when it comes to your health needs and troubles, it makes sense to think through and have a plan on how to get quick, convenient and affordable access to primary health care for the situations when life brings you unwanted surprises.
Primary health care here in Estonia, what are your options? No worries, we’ve got you covered. You can read more about your alternatives to accessing primary health care in Estonia. In a nutshell, it makes sense to have a GP close to you so that when you have a health need or have a question related to the Estonian health-care system, you know where to get help. So, what’s a suitable solution for you?
A personal doctor in your pocket
If you can find a GP who accepts you in their practice list, speaks your language, helps you within minutes any day of the week and solves most of your health needs online (without you needing to wait and travel to the doctor’s office) – that’s the best choice for you. However, if you’re not lucky enough to find such a rare doctor – Salu is the right choice for you.
Salu is an Estonian health-care service provider focusing on providing expats a personal doctor service seven days a week in English, Russian and Estonian – 89% of health needs are solved through online consultations. Therefore, you do not need to spend time, money and effort travelling anywhere, especially when you or your child is sick. For example, through online consultations, you can consult with a qualified medical professional, get prescription drugs, schedule sick leave, find and get referred to a specialist doctor and much more. It’s like a “medical concierge” conveniently available when and where you need it. This way, you can feel safe, have peace of mind and enjoy your adventures here in Estonia.
Although the vast majority of health needs can be solved online, there are also matters requiring a face-to-face appointment with a doctor. For example, you may need to give an analysis or test or see a doctor in person for an examination. For these cases, you can visit Salu’s clinics in Tallinn or partner labs elsewhere in Estonia. You can be sure you are in good hands, as Salu is a health-care service provider licensed by the Estonian Health Board.
Anyone can use Salu – no need to be registered in Estonia, own an Estonian ID document, a bank account or otherwise require local parameters to access the service. Also, you can get help for your child.
Sounds fancy, but also expensive? Well, it turns out it’s actually almost the same as a Netflix subscription. For €14.90 a month, you can use the services available through Salu as much as you want. No commitments. Cancel any time. And just between us – the first month is for a mere €7.50! You can give it a try and see how it works. We hope you like it, but if not, there’s not much to lose.
How it works in practice
We have hundreds of customers and some of the biggest tech companies here in Estonia that trust us to take care of their team’s health. To illustrate how Salu works in practice, here are two stories of real-life situations.
The first one concerns an expat that recently moved to Estonia. He didn’t have a clue how the Estonian health-care system works, nor did he have a family doctor. However, he had just run out of prescription medication issued from his home country, which he was supposed to take daily. Through Salu, he got the required prescription made through an online chat with a doctor in less than 20 minutes while sitting at home on his sofa. Thirty minutes later, he bought the medication from a nearby pharmacy.
The second story is about a family with a mom, dad and three kids. The whole family got sick – they had a fever of around 38°C, bad coughs, a lot of runny noses and two kids with earaches. On Tuesday, the mom wrote to their state-backed GP to get help. On Sunday, they hadn’t heard back from the doctor, so they decided to give Salu a try. The mom contacted a doctor through Salu at 7pm on Sunday, and the doctor responded in less than 15 minutes. The doctor advised on what might be wrong with their health and how to alleviate the symptoms at home. As one child was just one year old, the doctor wanted to physically see the kid and the whole family the next day at 5pm. After doing blood tests and examining the family, the doctor got the test results after 15 minutes, validated what was wrong and prescribed suitable medication. As a result, the whole family got the help they needed in less than 24 hours. And all this was covered in their fixed monthly plan. No added costs to their monthly subscription fee.
Sounds exciting, yes? It’s available for you, as well. The best way to see how it works is to sign up and give it a try. The first month costs only €7.50.