Sick in the city? Luckily, you live in a country where the standard of medical care is excellent. So if you’re going to pick a place to be ill in, well, Luxembourg is the place to be! Rute Vendeirinho gives a general overview of healthcare in the grand duchy. Get well soon!
There are no major health risks in Luxembourg, no compulsory vaccinations, no endemic diseases to be concerned about and, along with the rest of Northern Europe, the standards of hygiene and medical care you will receive are high. Read on for the most important information you need to know when it comes to healthcare in Luxembourg.
Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in the country. As with any country, keeping regular booster vaccinations against Tetanus and Polio up to date is highly recommended. Elderly or vulnerable visitors travelling during the winter months may consider vaccination against influenza, as outbreaks do occur.
If you are suddenly ill, or involved in an accident during a visit to Luxembourg, free or reduced-cost necessary treatment is available in most cases for European citizens and legal residents travelling within the European Economic Area, (the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Comprehensive insurance is advised for all other nationals.
The EHIC is available free of charge through the local health authority of your country of residence, so anyone covered by the Luxembourg social security system is also entitled to a EHIC. The card is issued free of charge by the Institutions de Sécurité Sociale and worth applying for one as the EHIC also allows all legal residents of Luxembourg to benefit from emergency medical treatment and care when temporarily abroad.
Luxembourg’s healthcare system is one of the best in Europe, with a high standard of state-funded healthcare. The state provides each citizen of the country with basic medical coverage. In addition, private healthcare is also available.
You can choose your own doctor (according to speciality and/or location) and can even book an appointment online with an English speaking doctor. Note that if you are seeking state medical care, ensure that your doctor is contracted into the state scheme, otherwise, you will have to pay the fees yourself.
GPs have different hours than doctors in most countries; they are closed on Wednesday afternoons. They operate on an appointment basis known as a rendez-vous, hold ‘walk-in’ surgeries or utilise a combination of the two. There may be long queues for walk-in surgeries and some doctors operate a supermarket-style ticket system. Doctors will make house visits but these visits are usually limited to a certain time of day.
In Luxembourg, the healthcare system works on a reimbursement basis. You submit receipts for consultations, treatment and medicines to your caisse for reimbursement at the appropriate rate, which varies from 80-100%. All medical fees in the country are decided by the Caisse de Maladie. Emergency treatment in a neighbouring country may also qualify for reimbursement at the same rates as in Luxembourg.
Seethe ‘City Savvy Guide: Health Insurance’ for more detailed information on the insurance system and reimbursements.
Pharmacies can be identified by a sign displaying a large green cross. If you purchase non-prescription drugs from a pharmacy you will pay full price; but if your doctor prescribes the same products your healthcare insurer will usually reimburse at least a part of the cost.
The pharmacist may ask for a description of your symptoms. In many ways, pharmacists have a greater responsibility for your health and safety than your doctor as they are held responsible for selling drugs or remedies which result in adverse side-effects – even if the drugs concerned were prescribed by a doctor.
Only doctors and consultants can prescribe medicine. Doctors are unable to provide prescriptions to the pharmacist over the phone, but the pharmacist may make changes after a telephone call to the doctor.
Pharmacies are usually open during normal shopping hours, but there is always a duty pharmacy available for service during off-hours. You may have to pay additional costs for medicines purchased during off-hours and these are non-reimbursable. After the regular working hours (8am to 6pm), every pharmacy will display a list of the nearest all-night pharmacies along with the address. You may also call 112 to find out the nearest on-duty pharmacies, or just check online here
Hospitals are identified by the international sign of a white H on a blue background. There are no private hospitals in Luxembourg; all hospitals are run by the Caisse de Maladie. You must have a referral from your doctor for an admission to a hospital if your case is not an emergency.
When going to a hospital you should take your own pyjamas, robe and slippers, as well as personal toiletries and towels. You’ll also need a small amount of money to pay for telephone calls, television programmes, bottled water and other items offered by private services within the hospital.
For a list of hospitals in Luxembourg see the ‘City Savvy Guide: Hospitals’.
The medical emergency phone number in Luxembourg is 112.
Read the ‘City Savvy Guide: Emergency Facilities’ for all you need to know about what to do in an emergency, if you or your child falls ill in the night or at the weekend and Luxembourg’s emergency facilities. Essential reading.
Don’t forget that if you suffer from a condition that may need emergency treatment you should carry a written description of the condition, the medicines you’re taking, including doses, and any other relevant details. This can be in English or the local language and will save you considerable time (and possibly your life) if a medical emergency strikes and you’re unable to speak for yourself.
Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt.
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