Healthcare in Latvia is decentralised with local government and the Ministry of Welfare sharing responsibility for the provision of healthcare services.
The Health Department takes care of legislation, policy, supervising healthcare at a national level and the provision of specialist treatment, which makes up part of the State Programme of Medical Care and includes haematology, cardiothoracic surgery oncology and AIDS care.
The Latvian health service is financed through national taxation. Local governments have a minimum amount they must spend on healthcare each year; they can exceed this amount but not fall short of it and they are unable to opt out of the state system.
The Basic Care Programme states the free care available for all citizens and registered foreigners in the country.
It covers care of serious diseases, preventive healthcare, child and maternity care, emergency treatment, the treatment of sexually transmitted and infectious disease, surgery, rehabilitation, immunisation programmes and free prescription medicine to entitled groups. Free dental treatment is available for the under 18’s.
Employees must pay mandatory contributions to the social security fund. Full social cover costs 23,800 LVL a year and includes cover against accidents at work and sickness during employment. Employers must pay 24.09 percent for each employee and the minimum amount an employee can contribute for basic cover is 9 percent.
Dependant family members are covered by the contributions paid by employed family members.
Self-employed people must a minimum of 1,800 LVL per year - the same amount as an employed persons minimum mandatory contribution. The majority of vulnerable groups must only pay 50 LVL a year.
Foreigners immigrating to Latvia without jobs must produce proof of private health insurance in order to obtain their residence permit.
Citizens who belong to vulnerable groups of society e.g. pregnant women, war veterans, diabetics and tuberculosis patients do not have to pay any charges.
Appointments with a doctor and referrals to a consultant are free. Fees have been increasing for state funded medical care and treatment like dental care for adults is now in the hands of the private sector.
Any treatment not included in the Basic Care Programme has to be paid for, although in practice the system is not set up to manage the collection of additional payments.