Healthcare in Greece for Expats and Foreigners

Introduction

Healthcare in Greece is available via public or private healthcare systems. The country’s healthcare standards are quite strong, despite the financial crisis it has been through.

Both citizens and expats can have access to the healthcare system in Greece easily. There is a unified system in Greece called EFKA, which provides all inhabitants with free healthcare. The EFKA also includes various insurance organizations.

As with everywhere else in the world, there are two types of health care in Greece: private and public.   

Public Healthcare in Greece

The Greek Healthcare System is called ESY, and it provides free healthcare to all the citizens and residents of Greece. Additionally, you are eligible for this healthcare system even if you are an expat, EU citizen, or unemployed.

The state healthcare system in Greece includes services such as:

  • Surveillance of public health
  • Control of infectious diseases
  • Environmental health control
  • Health promotion
  • General and specialist care
  • Hospitalization
  • Laboratory services
  • Discounted drugs and medicines
  • Maternity care
  • Medical appliances
  • Transportation

The state healthcare system is either free or at a low cost. Furthermore, you don’t need a referral from your GP to get an appointment with a specialist. For this reason, however, there may be long waiting lists for some specialties.

Moreover, in public health centers, most of the staff speak English to some extent. Keep in mind, though, that you may have difficulty finding an English speaking medical staff in a small town or a relatively small hospital.

If you are an expat working in Greece who has a social security number and pays contributions to public health insurance, you may have access to free or subsidized healthcare benefits. 

Other than ESY, there is an organization called IKA, which is the largest Social Security Organization in Greece. IKA covers expats and employees in Greece. Self-employed expats can benefit from the social security fund called OAEE. 

Another option for expats in Greece is international health insurance. This type of insurance also reduces waiting times. 

Citizens of EU Countries 

Citizens of EU member states can use their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for healthcare services.

However, this card does not cover private care costs. Besides that, individuals who have an EHIC card can freely consult a doctor in a PEDY (National Primary Healthcare Network) unit. They can also benefit from some dental treatments in a PEDY clinic. 

How to Apply For Public Healthcare Insurance System

If Employed by an Employer

If you work in Greece, you must get a social security number (AMKA), and your employer has to make contributions on your behalf. They also have the responsibility of arranging a provider for you. 

If your workplace does not sign you up, you can inform your local EFKA office. 

Documents you need to provide the EFKA office with:

  • An S1 form
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Your tax number
  • Passport-style photographs (two) 
  • AMKA (national social security insurance) number
  • Certificate of residence (provided you are going to be resident in Greece for more than three months)

To be covered by insurance, you must provide a 50-day-contribution with EFKA if you work in Greece. Then, you will receive a health booklet as proof of your insurance. You must renew the booklet once a year. 

If Self-Employed

If you are self-employed, you must apply to OAEE (Organisation for Self-Employed) for insurance. 

Documents you need to provide the OAEE office with:

  • Proof of payments of your last three months’ insurance 
  • Passport-style photographs (two) 
  • Passport or Greek ID card

It is advisable to check your insurance coverage with EFKA because the insurance system works on a reimbursement system. It has different types in itself, including various services. 

Dependent Family Members 

When you’ve paid all the necessary contributions, your family will also benefit from your health insurance. Dependent family members include:

  • Your spouse (if unemployed)
  • Your unmarried children who live with you until the age of 18, and if they are unemployed, until 24. If they are students, two years after their studies finish, or once they are 26
  • Your children with a disability of more than 67%(Judged by a medical professional)
  • Your parents (under some 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 more than 67%(Judged by a medical professional)
  • Under some conditions, the divorced spouse if they pay the contributions to the institution of the previous spouse.

Private Healthcare in Greece

Private healthcare facilities in Greece have newer pieces of equipment than public facilities. 

However, IKA does not cover these facilities. Expats have access to private healthcare in Greece as well, and the medical staff in private hospitals are more likely to speak English. Moreover, some private hospitals have partnerships with US hospitals or with other hospitals in different countries. 

Private Healthcare Insurance in Greece

Lots of citizens choose private health insurance because public insurance does not cover all expenses. Needless to say, there are shorter wait times in private medical facilities than public ones.

Private insurance can cover what public insurance doesn’t. In some cases, it may even cover all expenses. You may also extend your insurance to cover you in Greece if you already have one in another country. Various companies in Greece offer private insurance coverage, namely: Alico AIGlife, Allianz, Bupa Global, Cigna Global, Ethniki Asfalistiki, Generali, and Piraeus Bank.

What Does Private Health Insurance Cover

Besides covering a full range of primary healthcare, it also covers:

  • Specialists’ fees
  • Treatment in the country’s best hospitals
  • Advanced dental treatment
  • Elective cosmetic surgery

What Does the Cost of Private Insurance Depend on

Private health insurance costs depend on different criteria. Some of them include:

  • Age (If older, then it will cost more)
  • Area of covereage (whether you’re covered only in Greece or in other countries as well)
  • Choice of the product (if the products are the latest technology, then it’ll be more expensive)
  • Deductibles
  • Co-insurance
  • Payment frequency
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Country of residence

Emergency Services in Greece

Emergency service is free in Greece, and public ambulances are available in larger cities.

However, it may be challenging to find one in a rural area or on some islands. As an expat, you can dial 166 in case of an emergency. 

It is important to note that only some operators may speak English. If you wish to speak to an English operator, you must dial the European emergency number 112.

Pharmacies and Medication in Greece

Pharmacies are widely available in larger cities. Many pharmacists in Greece speak English, so it will be easy for you to communicate with them as an expat. In general, pharmacies are marked with a green cross. 

You can access medication easily in Greece, but you may have to go to a hospital for some specific drugs. As an expat, if you want to bring medicine from your country, you must bring them in their original containers. Additionally, you must bring your doctor’s letter, including the statement of your condition, the medication, and the medication’s generic name. It is also essential to check if your medicine is legal in Greece.

Another critical issue about Greece’s healthcare situation is that there was an outbreak of measles in 2019. So, it is best to be vaccinated against it. 

Mental Healthcare in Greece

In Greece, there has been an increase in the number of new mental health services. Besides that, expats can access more advanced and comprehensive services with international health insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare in Greece

Does public health insurance cover retirees?

EFKA may cover you if:

  • you make social security contributions as an expat retiree, or
  • you are an EU citizen, and you cannot afford to pay private insurance.

On the other hand, retired people must make contributions for prescriptions. However, the rate is only 10%, lower than the contributions of other patients. 

Does my insurance cover my family?

Yes, if you have paid enough of contribution, then your family will receive a health booklet. This booklet is proof of the insurance coverage. 

Does public insurance in Greece cover students?

If you are an international student from an EU country, you can use your EHIC card to benefit from insurance. 

If you are not an EU citizen, you must check agreements made between your country and Greece. If there is no arrangement, then you will have to get private health insurance. 

Does public health insurance cover dental treatment?

The public insurance covers:

  • Preventive dental care
  • Dental treatment
  • Orthodontic treatment for minors until the age of 13 
  • Change of dentures every five years and provision of services in the meantime.

Besides these services, other treatments or procedures may require private insurance coverage. 

What is the contribution rate for public health insurance?

The contribution rate for EFKA is around 30% of your salary, and it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange it.

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