The prolonged wait to secure scheduled appointments for specialist examinations in public health, often exacerbated by the urgency of the medical condition, compels patients to seek assistance from friends to expedite necessary imaging procedures. Some individuals resort to private healthcare as a form of “salvation,” despite the higher costs.

Each employee has 7.5 percent deducted from their salary monthly for health insurance. However, in certain situations, individuals are compelled to turn to private healthcare due to the unavailability of appointments in the public health sector.

There are patients who opt for private clinics even for basic specialist examinations because they face waiting times ranging from a few weeks to several months for the first available appointment in public health. Additionally, the wait for procedures such as computed tomography or PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) can extend over several months.
Patients with chronic diseases requiring regular check-ups often face extended wait times for appointments. In some cases, specialists do not directly schedule the next check-up, instead directing patients to family doctors. A patient in Skopje with heart disease shares that he sometimes waits for months for the next examination. If unable to secure an appointment, he requests a priority referral for the regular check-up.

Similarly, oncology patients find themselves in a comparable situation, where the absence of timely appointments results in the loss of valuable time. Consequently, they are occasionally compelled to undergo necessary examinations in private healthcare facilities where services are more expensive. Marjanović suggests addressing this issue by immediately scheduling the next check-up appointment at the conclusion of the current check-up for patients with a confirmed diagnosis.

Lilia Čolakova-Dervishova, the president of the Association of Private Family Physicians, supports the idea that specialists should schedule check-ups for patients with chronic diseases. She notes that the urgency of the diagnosis sometimes drives patients to seek help in private healthcare, which, though fast and efficient, is also more expensive. While agreeing that salaries for health workers in public health should be higher, Čolakova-Dervishova believes that patient care should also be prioritized. She attributes the problems in public health to years of poor management in public health institutions.

The Ministry of Health acknowledges the challenges and asserts efforts to increase available appointments for patients. Deputy Minister of Health, Maja Manoleva, explains that the Institute of Radiology, as a tertiary healthcare institution, has appointment schedules for specific patients referred from other institutions, particularly for magnetic resonance imaging.