Healthcare in Greece
Healthcare in Greece - All You Need to Know
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In Greece, healthcare services are accessible through both public and private systems. Despite the challenges posed by the financial crisis, the country maintains robust healthcare standards.
Access to the healthcare system in Greece is readily available for both citizens and expats. Greece has a unified system called EFKA, providing free healthcare to all residents. This comprehensive system also encompasses various insurance organizations.
Similar to other parts of the world, healthcare in Greece can be classified into two types: private and public.
Public Healthcare in Greece
The Healthcare System, known as ESY, offers free healthcare to all citizens and residents of Greece, including expats, EU citizens, and the unemployed.
ESY provides a wide range of services, including:
- public health surveillance
- discounted medications
- infectious disease control
- health promotion
- environmental health monitoring
- general and specialized care
- laboratory services
- medical appliances
- maternity care and
The system is designed to be accessible and affordable, with no need for referrals to see specialists. However, it’s important to note that there may be waiting lists for certain specialties.
Many staff members in public health centers can communicate in English to some extent, although it may be more challenging to find English-speaking medical professionals in smaller towns or hospitals.
Expats working in Greece with a social security number and contributions to public health insurance can also access free or subsidized healthcare benefits through organizations like IKA, the largest Social Security Organization in Greece, or OAEE for self-employed expats.
Additionally, expats in Greece have the option of international health insurance, which can help reduce waiting times and provide additional coverage.
Overall, the Greek healthcare system aims to ensure that quality healthcare is available and accessible to all individuals residing in Greece, regardless of their background or employment status.
Read next our detailed guide on the Education System and Schools of Greece.
Citizens of EU Countries
EU citizens can utilize their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to access healthcare services. It’s important to note that this card does not cover private care expenses. However, individuals with an EHIC card are entitled to consult with a doctor at a PEDY (National Primary Healthcare Network) unit without any restrictions. Additionally, certain dental treatments can also be availed at a PEDY clinic.
How to Apply For Public Healthcare Insurance System
If you are employed in Greece, it is mandatory to obtain a social security number (AMKA) and have your employer make contributions on your behalf. They are also responsible for arranging a provider for you.
In case your workplace fails to register you, you can inform your local EFKA office. The following documents need to be provided to the EFKA office:
- An S1 form
- Photocopy of your passport
- Your tax number
- Two passport-style photographs
- AMKA (national social security insurance) number
- Certificate of residence (if you plan to be a resident in Greece for more than three months)
To ensure insurance coverage, you must contribute for a minimum of 50 days with EFKA if you work in Greece. Once fulfilled, you will receive a health booklet as proof of insurance, which needs to be renewed annually.
For self-employed individuals, insurance must be obtained through OAEE (Organisation for Self-Employed). The following documents are required by the OAEE office:
- Proof of payments for the last three months’ insurance
- Two passport-style photographs
- Passport or Greek ID card
It is advisable to verify your insurance coverage with EFKA, as the insurance system operates on a reimbursement basis and offers various types of services.
Dependent Family Members
Once you have fulfilled all the necessary contributions, your health insurance will also benefit your family. Dependent family members include:
- Your spouse (if unemployed)
- Your unmarried children who reside with you until the age of 18, and until 24 if they are unemployed. If they are students, coverage extends for two years after completing their studies or until they turn 26.
- Your children with a disability exceeding 67%, as determined by a medical professional.
- Your parents (subject to certain conditions).
- Orphans who have lost both parents, grandchildren, siblings, or orphans with one parent if they are a protected member.
- Brothers and sisters with disabilities exceeding 67%, as determined by a medical professional.
- Under specific conditions, the divorced spouse who pays contributions to the institution of the previous spouse.
Private Healthcare in Greece
Private facilities in Greece boast state-of-the-art equipment surpassing that of public facilities. Unfortunately, IKA does not extend coverage to these facilities. Expats also have the privilege of accessing private healthcare in Greece, where medical staff are more likely to be proficient in English. Additionally, certain private hospitals have established valuable partnerships with renowned US hospitals or other esteemed institutions across the globe.
Private Healthcare Insurance in Greece
Many individuals opt for private health insurance due to the limited coverage provided by public insurance. It goes without saying that private medical facilities typically offer shorter wait times compared to public ones.
Private insurance can fill the gaps left by public insurance, and in certain cases, it may even cover all expenses. Additionally, if you already have insurance in another country, you can extend your coverage to include Greece. Several companies in Greece offer private insurance options, including Alico AIGlife, Bupa Global, Allianz, Cigna Global, Generali, Ethniki Asfalistiki, and Piraeus Bank.
What Does Private Health Insurance Cover
In addition to providing comprehensive primary healthcare, the coverage extends to various other aspects, such as:
- Reimbursement of specialists’ fees
- Access to the finest hospitals in the country for treatment
- Advanced dental procedures
- Optional cosmetic surgeries
This inclusive coverage ensures that all your healthcare needs are well taken care of, offering a wide range of services for your well-being.
What Does the Cost of Private Insurance Depend on
The cost of private health insurance is determined by various factors, including:
- Age: Older individuals may incur higher costs.
- Co-insurance: The percentage of medical expenses shared between the insurer and the insured.
- Area of coverage: Whether coverage is limited to Greece or extends to other countries.
- Deductibles: The amount you must pay before insurance coverage kicks in.
- Country of residence: Where you currently live.
- Nationality: Your citizenship.
- Choice of product: The use of the latest technology may increase the price.
- Payment frequency: How often you make premium payments.
- Gender: Some insurance plans consider gender as a factor.
These criteria collectively influence the cost of private health insurance.
Emergency Services in Greece
Emergency services in Greece are provided free of charge, with public ambulances readily available in major cities. However, accessing these services can be more challenging in rural areas or on certain islands. For expats, dialing 166 in case of an emergency is crucial.
It’s worth noting that not all operators may be proficient in English. To connect with an English-speaking operator, dial the European emergency number 112.
Pharmacies and Medication in Greece
Pharmacies are readily available in larger cities of Greece. Many pharmacists in the country are fluent in English, making communication easy for expatriates. These pharmacies are typically identified by a distinctive green cross symbol.
Accessing medication in Greece is generally convenient, although certain specific drugs may require a visit to a hospital. If you plan to bring medication from your home country, it is important to keep them in their original containers and carry a doctor’s letter detailing your condition, the prescribed medication, and its generic name. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure the legality of your medication in Greece.
It is worth noting that Greece faced a measles outbreak in 2019, thus it is advisable to be vaccinated against it as a precautionary measure.
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Mental Healthcare in Greece
Greece has experienced a rise in the availability of new mental health services. Additionally, expats can now benefit from accessing advanced and comprehensive services through international health insurance. These improvements ensure that individuals receive the support they need while retaining the original meaning.
Healthcare for Greece Golden Visa Applicants
As a Golden Visa holder in Greece, access to healthcare is not granted automatically. If you choose not to reside in Greece permanently, it is mandatory to obtain private healthcare insurance that provides coverage for your medical needs within the country.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare in Greece
Does public health insurance provide coverage for retirees?
EFKA may cover you if you meet either of the following conditions: you contribute to social security as an expat retiree, or you are an EU citizen who cannot afford private insurance.
On the other hand, retired individuals are required to contribute towards prescription costs. However, the contribution rate is only 10%, which is lower compared to other patients.
Does my insurance policy cover my family?
Yes, if you have made sufficient contributions, your family will receive a health booklet as proof of insurance coverage.
Does the public insurance system in Greece cover students?
International student from any EU country, can utilize your EHIC card for insurance benefits. If you are not an EU citizen, it is important to check the agreements between your country and Greece. If there is no agreement, you will need to obtain private health insurance.
Does public health insurance cover dental treatment?
Your Public insurance in Greece covers preventive dental care, dental treatment, orthodontic treatment for minors up to the age of 13, as well as denture replacements every five years with interim services provided. However, certain treatments or any procedures that may require some type of private insurance coverage.
Is there a contribution rate for public health insurance in Greece?
The contribution rate for EFKA is approximately 30% of your annual salary, and it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange it.