Health care

Bulgaria

Country Report: Health care Last updated: 21/04/21

Author

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

Asylum seekers are entitled to the same health care as nationals.[1] Under the law, the SAR has the obligation to cover the health insurance of asylum seekers.

In practice, asylum seekers have access to available health care services, but do face the same difficulties as the nationals due to the general state of deterioration in a national health care system that suffers from great material and financial deficiencies. In this situation, special conditions for treatment of torture victims and persons suffering mental health problems are not available. According to the law, the medical assistance cannot be accessed if the reception conditions are reduced or withdrawn.

Until 31 December 2018, Dublin returnees faced significant obstacles in accessing medical care upon return, mainly resulting from the delay for the asylum and health care administration to restore their insurance coverage in the national health care database. These delays could vary from a couple of days to several weeks or even months in certain cases. Since 1 January 2019 the health care database has been re-organised to automatically restore the Dublin returnees’ health care status and register them as individuals with uninterrupted medical insurance as soon as their asylum procedures is being reopened at the SAR. However, this applies only to those who left Bulgaria in 2019 and were subsequently returned back. Access to healthcare for asylum applicants who left Bulgaria prior to 1 January 2019, and who are now being returned under Dublin III, is still not ensured. In order for them to access medical care, the SAR must issue a written notification to the national IRS. Only then can the access to the medical care be restored, which takes couple of days in the majority of the cases, although there have been cases in which it took longer periods of time. In order to solve the issue in 2020 the law was amended to explicitly provide uninterrupted health care rights for asylum seekers whose procedures were re-opened after being previously discontinued – a situation that typically applies to Dublin cases. [2] However, the arrangement is not applicable for the Dublin returnees whose applications have been decided on the substance in absentia before their return to Bulgaria. It is also not clear how this arrangement will be applied in practice and whether the IRS will be able to make the necessary adaptations in its software in order to ensure asylum seekers’ access to health care in these cases.

Presently, all reception centres are equipped with consulting rooms and provide basic medical services, but their scope varies depending on the availability of medical service providers in the particular location.

Basic medical care in reception centres is provided either through own medical staff or by referral to emergency care units in local hospitals.

 

 

[1]           Article 29(1)(5) LAR.

[2]       Article 29(8) LAR.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation