‘Game-changing’ premium health services bring Western-style medical standards to Czechia

Private insurer cuts wait times to see doctors with new 24/7 medical consults, fits legal requirements for long-term visa applicants

Julie O'Shea

Written by Julie O'Shea Published on 25.04.2024 17:53:00 (updated on 25.04.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

Foreigners are now able to choose their health provider after the insurance monopoly held by Pojišťovna VZP was dissolved. One private insurer is raising the bar on premium services in a bid to attract expats accustomed to Western-style medical standards.   

In addition to comprehensive coverage for long or short-term stays, Colonnade Insurance offers its clients 24/7 medical consultations with doctors and specialists over the phone for urgent health concerns.

“This is what medical coverage should look like in 2024. Our offer puts us way ahead of our competitors and makes us stand out,” says Martin Blecha, Head of Accident & Health at Colonnade. “It’s a real game-changer.”

Colonnade’s “online clinic” is available in English and Czech, with translation possible for Russian and Vietnamese speakers. Clients can describe illnesses and symptoms to a doctor nonstop over the phone or via video call (from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.). The doctor can then provide further medical guidance or even issue e-prescriptions if an in-person examination isn’t deemed necessary. 

The goal, explains Blecha, is to provide clients with a quick and comfortable solution to their medical needs without long wait times to see or speak with a doctor or specialist – a rampant complaint about the public healthcare system.

“On average, you will get a call back from a doctor within an hour of calling the Colonnade helpline,” says Blecha, adding that typically half of all cases that are called in can be solved over the phone or video call without the client needing to make a follow-up appointment at a doctor’s office.

The Colonnade Insurance Assistance Service will advise you on the best solution for your medical situation, including suitable medical facilities and specialists. 

In other words, you won’t have to spend time trying to track down a doctor. You’ll also avoid having to spend hours in a stuffy waiting room to see a specialist, as Colonnade strives to make navigating the system for its clients as easy and pain-free as possible. 

This client-centric approach is a sharp contrast to the way medical visits generally work in the public sector, where a shortage of qualified medical personnel is failing to meet growing demand. It’s not uncommon for people to wait months to receive specialized medical care with a public insurance card.  

Active on the local market since 2016, Colonnade partners with a number of medical professionals across the Czech Republic, from general practitioners and pediatricians to neurologists, gynecologists and psychologists.

If you are a foreigner considering switching providers once your contract with Pojišťovna VZP (PVZP) expires but are concerned that your current doctors won’t accept a new carrier, Blecha says not to worry: Colonnade will call the physicians on your behalf. 

“We can usually come to an agreement with doctors to pay them the equivalent of what they were getting from PVZP,” says Blecha, who oversaw the private insurer’s recent portfolio expansion.  

Colonnade has seen a steady rise in foreign clients since the government ended the monopoly held by PVZP for non-EU nationals last year. While foreigners were given a three-month period to switch carriers, Blecha believes many likely chose to stick with PVZP until their contracts expire since they wouldn’t be reimbursed the hefty one-off premiums they were forced to pay at the start of their contracts. He anticipates the market will see a spike of people looking for new providers once those PVZP contracts start expiring.

Now is the time to start researching what services you’d like provided by your next healthcare insurer.

Colonnade offers premium-level services, like its 24/7 medical helpline and urgent care coverage when traveling within the Schengen Area, at rates that make healthcare coverage affordable to a greater number of target groups. Students, for instance, are offered discounts.

The insurance company, which is part of Fairfax Financial Holdings, provides an attractive complex care indemnity limit of CZK 25 million. You can also purchase a policy online or through its app from anywhere, at any time. Your contract will be emailed directly to your inbox. 

Policy plans are ideal for individuals, families and partners, who are not Czech citizens, as well as long-term residency permit or long-term visa applicants. Colonnade also caters to those here on short-term private, work and study stays.

Insurance policies through Colonnade meet the legal requirements for securing visas. You can arrange to have a policy that acts as a valid travel health insurance document for stays of more than 90 days in the Czech Republic.  

The company’s standard and premium insurance options both include preventive care exams, vaccinations, visits to a general practitioner, dentist or gynecologist. The premium package, which has the highest possible coverage on the Czech market, also covers pregnancy care, accident insurance and damage liability insurance.

This article was written in cooperation with Colonnade Insurance S.A. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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