In the unfortunate case that you need medical help while traveling in Europe, there will be good options available wherever you are. The healthcare system in European countries is publicly funded one way or the other, ensuring that even people without available funds will receive at least emergency treatment. If you intend to travel on a Schengen visa, you will be required to produce proof of travel health insurance coverage before the visa can get issued, so it is usually a good idea to purchase one in advance, although it is often possible to purchase insurance online within minutes.
Doctors, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies can usually easily be found in Western and Central Europe and provide good quality service. In more rural areas of Eastern Europe, ask your hotel staff for recommendations or directions. For Europe, no special vaccinations are necessary.
In the case of an emergency the number to dial is 112. This number has been harmonized throughout almost all of Europe and will work from any phone. 911 might work in some places, but not everywhere. 112 connects you to a regional emergency center that will be able to help you in English and to handle all cases of emergency situations including fire and police matters.
Medicine and minor health matters
If you need to stock up on medicine that you usually take, suffer from a cold or other non-emergency ailments, Europeans usually go to a pharmacy. Many things such as pain or fever remedy, medicine for stomach problems or infections or similar will be available there without the need to see a doctor. Staff in pharmacies will be able to recommend over-the-counter medicine to help you, be sure to bring a translator of some kind if you’re not sure how to describe your ailment. There is usually at least one pharmacy open in the nearby area even on weekends and at night. Ask your host or hotel reception for guidance. Some medication in Europe may look differently than in your home country or come by different names and in some cases, dosage can vary as well, so be sure to follow instructions carefully.
Doctors and hospitals
In most cases where you will have to seek medical help, you will find someone being able to help you in English, in particular if you need to go to a hospital. Since you will not be enrolled in your host country’s health insurance system, some other form of payment will be necessary. If you possess travel health insurance, be sure to contact your insurer as soon as possible. That can often take care of the medical bills which you will otherwise have to pay yourself. If that cannot be avoided, be sure to get a bill printed so you can get reimbursed later.
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