I am a UK citizen with permanent residency in Bulgaria. I am paying taxes, social security etc here.

I am told that I should be getting my own doctor, a GP, if I want to be able to use the state health care system. However, I can't find out how to proceed. The Zdravna kasa give me conflicting info and I don't really have the time to go there very often.

Can you help?

Jamie Brown, Sofia


VAGABOND: Anyone with a permanent or long-term residence status can get a GP as long as they pay their social contributions here. Most GPs cannot trace your contributions so, before you visit them, go to your local Inland Revenue Agency office. Take an ID - the official will make a copy of it, perform a check on their database and issue you the relevant document for free. This should only take a couple of minutes. The only drawback is that English is rarely spoken at these places. Unless you speak Bulgarian you should take a friend to translate. The National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) can also check for you but they won't be able to give you a document so it's pointless going there. In addition to the above paper, you need to get a health form - available free at all local National Health Insurance Fund offices. In Sofia these are located at 12 Enos St in Strelbishte and 15 Lyubata St in Lozenets. You have to fill in the first part, in Bulgarian, and the GP fills in the rest. The doctor forwards it to the NZOK and obtains your health card from them. You should take this blue booklet with you whenever you go to your GP. For every visit you will be charged one percent of the minimum wage - currently 180 leva - or 1.80 leva.

Examinations by specialists and tests are extra. Your health card also entitles you to state-provided dentistry. There is one important difference though - you don't have to register with a dentist, you can visit any of them provided they are affiliated to the National Health Insurance Fund.


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