Stand-alone private practices of general practitioners are rare if not non-existent, and both private and public doctors are typically affiliated with a clinic. Dentists, optometrists, and psychiatrists or counselors may be found both in clinics and in free-standing practices. House calls are still relatively common in Moscow as well.
Public clinics and practices may vary substantially in the quality and accessibility of care. In Moscow, basic standards such as the use of disposable one-use needles generally exist in all public clinics. This may not be guaranteed, though, and you should keep a watchful eye – especially if you travel outside of Moscow or other major cities. Equipment may be very old, but functioning. You may not be able to find public treatment for serious illnesses, and, if you can, you should not expect it to be up-to-date with the latest research and care options.
Because of this, and because it is almost impossible to find English-speaking staff, public clinics are not very popular with expatriates. However, they offer free or almost-free services to anyone with an OMS government insurance policy (see Insurance). Those without OMS coverage can often purchase services at rates substantially lower than what a private clinic would charge, but pre-payment is always required, even if you have private insurance.
You can order a free (if you have OMS coverage) house call, which is the equivalent of calling an ambulance. The short number for the ambulance is 03, and if you have a potentially serious condition or no ability to transport the patient to the doctor, an ambulance staffed by a doctor will arrive within 60 to 90 minutes to examine the patient at home. Please note that you will not be able to reach an English-speaking dispatcher, and that you will need to explain in some detail the circumstances so that the doctor can make a determination if your request for a house call has merit.
Most doctors educated in the west work in private clinics, which may also have a range in equipment, standards, and cost. Private clinics will usually not accept insurance in lieu of prepayment, unless they have a standing agreement with a particular insurance company (see Insurance).
The ones most often used by expatriates are those that advertise English-speaking doctors and staff (see Best Practitioners). These are typically outfitted to the highest of Western standards. However, many expatriates complain that the private clinics available in Moscow are heavily overpriced, and that doctors – driven by the profit model of the clinic – often recommend unnecessary tests, procedures, and even surgery.
However, you can usually be sure of the highest standards of care at these clinics. The best thing is to visit and learn about several clinics once you arrive in Moscow, and choose your primary provider that way. Some private clinics also offer house calls, which are often also referred to as ambulance visits, mirroring the public sector. If this is important to you, you should inquire about it when selecting a clinic for you and your family.