Dear Valued Readers,
In Bulgaria March starts with celebration of a centuries-old tradition - exchanging martenitsas, red- and-white interwoven strings which bring health and happiness - on the day of Baba Marta (Grandmother March). People are supposed to take off their martenitsas when they see the first signs of the spring - a blooming tree, stork, or sparrow. Martenitsa is then tied to a fruit tree.
We have previously given information about medical care in Bulgaria. The main topic in this month's newsletter is dedicated to the particular steps one have to take in order to register with the National Health Service.
Registering with Bulgaria's Health System
Bulgaria's national health system is administered by the National Health Service. It has regional offices in each regional centre of the country. If you wish to reside long-term in Bulgaria you will most probably need to register with the system in order to receive medical services unless you have taken private medical insurance.
If you have a labour contract your employer will be obliged to submit your documents in the National Social Service and through them in the National Health Service. Then the health instalments will be set and paid every month by the employer.
If you are an owner of an operating company the health insurance instalments will be arranged by your accountant on monthly basis as part of all social payments required.
If you are not working you will need to submit your documents and the documents for family members directly to the regional office of the National Health Service.
The first step will be to visit the regional office of National Revenue Agency where you will receive information about the amount you need to pay (currently it is 10.40 Bulgarian Levs per month) and bank details of the account where you will have to transfer the health payments to join the national health service and to maintain it. You will have to pay for some time before you can register for a doctor or you have the option of making a back-payment which will give you an immediate access to the health system.
Second, you pay the amount as you will be instructed in any bank through a bank transfer. The payment document should contain your personal number which is given to you together with your residency card. It is called Personal Number of a Foreigner (or Lichen Nomer na Chuzdenets).
Third. Once the necessary payments are made you can visit the regional office of the National Health Service with your identification documents. On some occasions it may be good to bring the payment slips for the instalments made. There you will fill in a form for choosing a general practitioner. It would be good to have met the doctor and gained his/her agreement prior to this as some doctors have too many patients and would not want to register new ones.
If you are a citizen of the EU and have retired you will need to bring your official documents with you as you are entitled to joining the national health system free of charge. Children are insured as dependent on their parents and you will have to consult this with the National Revenue Agency and NHS during your initial visit.
The forth step is to visit your GP with the documents from the NHS who will register you on their list and prepare your patient file. After completing the above procedure you will be able to use same medical services as Bulgarian citizens.
In case of a health problem you will have to visit your general practitioner. He/she will examine you and prescribe treatment. If your condition requires the GP will send you for further examinations to a specialist or for medical tests. You will be required to pay so called "consumer fee" for the visit which is currently 2.20 Bulgarian Levs.
If you are sent to a specialist you will have to visit him or her within 30 days and to present the document given by your GP. Same consumer fee will be charged by the specialist doctor. If you wish to visit a specialist doctor without visiting your GP you will have to pay the full price of the examination. Some specialists only have private practice.
If your condition requires hospital treatment you will be given the necessary documents by your GP. There is a small daily charge payable in the state hospitals but all medical tests and medicines should be free.
Most medicines are paid by the patient in Bulgaria but if you have a chronic disease it is likely you to be entitled to free or partly paid medicines. Prescriptions for such medicines are given by the GP.
If you need emergency medical care you have to telephone 112 or visit an emergency centre in the nearest hospital. Even if you are not registered with the national health system you are entitled to free emergency care if you possess EU health card from the country of your permanent residence.
You can some general information in our our newsletter of October 2007 .
Bansko Hosted Women's World Cup Alpine Skiing Events
Bansko hosted women's World Cup Alpine skiing events between 27 February and 1st March. This was the first top class skiing race held in Bulgaria for the last 25 years. Fabienne Suter, from Switzerland, won the women's World Cup downhill race and Lindsey Vonn of the USA won the super-G. Both participants and visitors said that the organisation of the event was excellent.
In the meantime a new worldwide survey of M&S Money of ski resorts found that Bulgaria's Bansko was the best value for money ski resort for UK skiers.
Bulgaria Informally in Eurozone According to Bulgarian National Bank Governor
The Governor of the Bulgarian National Bank Ivan Iskrov said that the stable currency rate of the Euro compared to the Bulgarian Lev was the reason to assume that Bulgaria is virtually in the Eurozone. That is a result of the important decision of all Bulgarian governments since 1997 to keep the Currency Board until being accepted in the Eurozone.
Iskrov said that the current crisis in Bulgaria is an economic one and not financial. It is a result of issues imported from Western Europe. He predicted that in medium and long run Bulgaria would boast a higher than the average EU economic growth.
Bulgaria - One of The Most Competitive Investment Areas
The Director of the State Investment Agency Stoyan Stalev announced that Bulgaria was not less attractive for foreign investors than the world's top investment destination, the East Coast of China.
The key attraction of Bulgaria in terms of investments was its potential as an export location close to markets with some 800 million inhabitants in the EU, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Stalev said that the main investment strategy of the Bulgarian government was to combine macroeconomic and political stability, favourable taxation policy, qualified labour force and low production costs and to improve bureaucracy.
Foreign direct investments amounted at EUR 30 billion in Bulgaria since 1990 and EUR 19 billion of those were invested only between 2006 and 2008. Austria (15%), the Netherlands (12%), and Greece (9%) are the first three states for foreign direct investments. The UK companies were forth in the list with 9%.
Wizz Air Starts New Flight Routes to Bulgaria
Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost carrier, has announced plans to start new flight routes to several countries in Eastern Europe including Bulgaria. The company will operate flights between Sofia and Basel (Switzerland), Kiev (the Ukraine) and Tunis (Tunisia).
Currently Wizz Air flies from Sofia to Barcelona, Brussels, Dortmund, London, Milan, Rome, Valencia, Varna and Venice, from Varna to Budapest and from Burgas to Budapest, Katowice/Cracow, London, Poznan and Warsaw.
Bulgaria's Chess Master Topalov Won World Challenge Victory against Gata Kamsky
On 26 February Bulgarian chess star and former world champion Veselin Topalov defeated the chess champion of USA Gata Kamsky, winning the ultimate victory in the World Chess Challenge in Sofia by 4,5 to 2,5 points. Thus Topalov is going to play against Viswanathan Anand of India for the World Chess Title later this year.
Monthly Travel Guide
Below is a link to the Jamadvice HRG Bulgaria Monthly Travel Guide. It provides useful information as well as some interesting facts from the travel industry.