If you were to describe the foreigners access to health care in the Czech Republic in one sentence, nothing would do it better than the paraphrase of Orwell’s quote.
While dependants of foreigners from the European Union are entitled to use Czech public health insurance system, children of third-country nationals (citizens from states that are not part of the EU or the EEA) are excluded from it unless they hold a permanent residence permit. Their only available healthcare plan option – the so-called commercial health insurance for foreigners – has the scope of a travel insurance with annual visits to a general practitioner. For 5 years before being granted permanent residence, children have extremely limited access to health care, not being able to get proper treatment covered by insurance. Paying for medical services out of pocket can not be considered a financially available option, as health care providers are legally charging third-country nationals several times more than they would charge an insurance company or a EU tourist.
Czech authorities have been ignoring the problem for almost two decades, in the meantime families of third-country nationals, who are paying the same taxes as the Czech citizens, risk facing devastating debts for the mere attempt to provide their dependants with the health care they require. The Czech Republic is the only country in the European Union which restricts children of employed third-country nationals from participating in the public health insurance system.
Here is the collection of real-life stories that illustrate how flawed the current system is. In the absence of any statutory regulation the Czech market of commercial health insurance feeds off the most vulnerable groups of foreigners who are not entitled to join the public health insurance system – pregnant women, premature babies, individuals suffering from chronic conditions – charging them astronomical premiums for an illusion of coverage.