Estonia's health care system is governed by Health Services Organisation Act, which provides the organisation of and the requirements for the provision of health services, and the procedure for the management, financing and supervision of health care.
Health services are the activities of health care professionals for the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of diseases, injuries or intoxication in order to reduce the malaise of persons, prevent the deterioration of their state of health or development of the diseases, and restore their health. Health care service can be either outpatient (a person does not need to stay at a hospital twenty-four hours a day), or inpatient (a person needs to stay at a hospital twenty-four hours a day).
Health care providers are health care professionals or legal persons providing health services, who have applied to Health Board for activity license for provision of health care services. For the purposes of this Act, health care professionals are doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives if they are registered with the Health Board.
Health Board registries are here.
Provision of health care is organized according to the specifics of provision:
- provision of emergency care
- provision of general medical care
- provision of emergency medical care
- provision of specialised medical care
- provision of nursing
- provision of midwifery care
Emergency care means health services which are provided by health care professionals in situations where postponement of care or failure to provide care may cause the death or permanent damage to the health of the person requiring care. Every person in the territory of the Republic of Estonia has the right to receive emergency care and all health care professionals are required to provide emergency care within the limits of their competence and with the means available. Provision of health services is free of charge in emergency care department, permissible visitation fee up to 5 EUR.
NB! Visitation fee is not charged when:
1) outpatient specialized care is provided for pregnant woman,
2) outpatient specialized care is provided two the insured person under the age of two,
3) provision of emergency outpatient care is immediately followed by the provision of inpatient health care service,
4) the insured person was referred to a specialized care physician by another health worker working same medical institution or a physician working in the same field in another medical institution.
General medical care means out-patient health services which are provided by family physicians and health care professionals working together with them. In case of illness, a person's first point of contact is their family physician. The family physician provides general medical care and advice on disease, injury or poisoning prevention for all the people in their practice list. If necessary, the family physician refers the patient to an appropriate specialized medical care provider for a consultation or to a hospital.
Every insured person has their own family physician, whom they have either chosen by themselves, or who has been assigned to them by the county governor. Persons not satisfied with their family doctor, can change their family physician. This can be done by submitting an application to a new family physician. General medical care provided to persons covered by health insurance shall be paid for from the funds designated for health insurance in the state budget in the amounts in which the Estonian Health Insurance Fund has assumed the obligation to pay for it. Persons not covered by health insurance shall pay for general medical care themselves.
Emergency medical care means out-patient health services for the initial diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases, injuries and intoxication and, if necessary, for the transportation of the person requiring care to a hospital. Emergency medical care works around the clock and is designed to provide immediate medical outpatient care outside the premises of a medical service provider. Emergency medical care specializes in the provision of health care in case of life-threatening health event; emergency medical care provides all possible emergency medical aid on the field and, if necessary, transports the person in need to a hospital.
Each person staying in the territory of the Republic of Estonia has the right to receive emergency medical care. In Estonia, emergency care can be called on alarm centre number 112.Emergency medical care shall be paid for from the state budget through the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Specialised medical care means out-patient or in-patient health services which are provided by medical specialists or dentists and health care professionals working together with them. A hospital is an economic unit formed in order to provide out-patient and in-patient health services.
Hospital types are regional hospital, central hospital, general hospital, local hospital, special hospital, rehabilitation hospital and nursing hospital.
Specialised medical care provided to persons covered by health insurance shall be paid for from the funds designated for health insurance in the state budget in the amounts in which the Estonian Health Insurance Fund has assumed the obligation to pay for it. Persons not covered by health insurance shall pay for specialised medical care themselves.
Nursing means out-patient or in-patient health services which are provided by nurses and midwives together with family physicians, medical specialists or dentists, or independently.
A nurse is a person who has graduated from basic nursing education and whom a relevant the legislative authority has granted a right to practice nursing in his or her country.
The goal of nursing is to preserve and possible improve the well-established functional status of a patient, long-term treatment and support of patients in stable condition through nursing activities. The subject of nursing is an individual, family or population with their physical, psychological and social needs. Nursing activities are regulated by health service laws, regulations, rules and nursing code of ethics.
Midwifery care means out-patient or in-patient health services which are provided by midwives together with a family physician or medical specialist or independently.
A midwife is a person who, by participating regularly in the country legally approved midwifery training, has successfully completed such training, and thus received competency required in order to be entered in the national register of health care professionals and be legally authorized to practice as a midwife. A midwife supervises, monitors, cares for, and advises women during pregnancy and childbirth, the postpartum period, and in case of gynaecological problems. A midwife participates in health education and family planning for individual, families and on societal level.