Health insurance in Greece
Those moving or traveling to Greece will undoubtedly have many questions regarding how the Greek healthcare system works, as well as whether private health insurance is necessary. This guide provides information about health insurance in Greece for foreigners and locals, as well as about the country’s healthcare system. Read on to learn more, or click below to obtain a no-obligation, free quote.
Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, is located in the southeastern part of Europe and is said to be the birthplace of many aspects of western society, including fundamentals in mathematics, politics, philosophy, drama, and medicine. The north of Greece borders Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the East borders Turkey and on the West and South lies the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Greece also has thousands of islands, some of which are uninhabited by people and are used as day trip islands either by plane or by boat. Greece has been a full member of the European Union since 1981 and NATO since 1952. Greek healthcare comprises many different facilities and can cater to the needs of its 14.01 million visitors per year.
Healthcare system in Greece
The Greek healthcare system can be characterized as a mixed health system: being made up of both the National Health System of Greece (ESY) and private health insurance. The National Health System of Greece guarantees free healthcare for all Greek residents and citizens. Healthcare services are also provided to EU and non-EU citizens on the basis of multilateral or bilateral agreements. Furthermore in Greece, if you are a foreigner, expatriate, and pay your taxes to the Greek government you are entitled to the national healthcare plan just as much as Greek citizens.
The public healthcare system manages around 130 general and specialized hospitals financed by the state budget and social insurance funds and provides emergency, outpatient, and in-patient care. The public healthcare system also consists of about 200 primary care health centers and 1,500 rural medical centers that provide primary care services in rural areas free of charge and are funded by the state budget.
Although Greece can offer wide coverage on public medical facilities, these facilities are not present on every Greek island. Furthermore, Greek islands that do have medical facilities on them are usually fairly limited in what resources they have. If you plan to spend your time in Greece in any of the Greek islands and happen to require any major surgeries, you would most likely have to be flown or taken by boat to the nearest hospital on the mainland. In addition to this, many public hospital workers speak little or no English and may have trouble communicating with tourists.
Overall Greece has a well-rounded healthcare service. As is true with any country in the world, there are some problems inherent in the system; however, most people are able to receive the care that they need when they need it, except of course if you happen to be on an outlying island. The only way to avoid the issues and concerns of any healthcare system in the world is through a quality international health insurance plan. These plans give you the flexibility to go to the doctor or hospital of your choice, meaning that no matter where in the world you may be located, you will always be able to receive the highest standard of care available.
Private healthcare sector in Greece
The private healthcare sector in Greece has seen significant growth over the past decade as the healthcare system in Greece is moving towards greater privatization. This trend is influenced by economic growth, the dissatisfaction of the public with access to and quality of public care.
Private medical centers, be it hospitals or outpatient clinics, are generally less affected by the country’s economic situation and have better facilities and equipment. Doctors and nurses in private hospitals are also more likely to speak and understand English. However, treatment in private facilities is expensive. Many Greek nationals take out private health insurance to get access to healthcare without long waiting lines. Expats who prefer to get treated at private medical centers in Greece should have private medical insurance.
Can I use an EHIC card in Greece?
Temporary visitors to Greece from the EU/EEA/Switzerland can receive discounted, or free healthcare through their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as per the agreement between their country and Greece. There are certain healthcare costs that EHIC doesn’t cover, such as medical transport back to your home country, mountain rescue, or private treatment. Those without an EHIC and visitors from outside the EU will need to purchase private health insurance for Greece.
Greece travel tips
Please be advised that the information contained on this page is not fully comprehensive and may be liable to change without prior warning; as such you should consult a travel expert or your local embassy prior to departing on your journey.
Most visits to Greece are trouble-free. However, those who are planning to travel to Greece during the tourist season are warned that purse snatching and pickpocketing incidents are significantly higher during this period in comparison to the non-tourist season.
In Greece rape and sexual assaults are infrequent. However, on large tourist resorts, where there are predominately youth visitors, this may not be the case. Large scale beach parties in resorts have in the past lead to many tourists reporting cases of sexual assault and rape.
Greece is a stable democracy, however, protests are a standard feature of Greek political life and therefore it is advised you remain cautious, as protests sometimes can lead to riots.
Generally, there are no local travel restrictions, but you should be aware that certain areas near the Greek borders are militarily sensitive. Although these areas can be visited without any problems, do not take photographs or make notes near military or official institutions. In addition, travelers should seek permission before photographing individuals.
You are strongly advised not to hire motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, or quad bikes, as accidents involving these forms of transport are common and can often result in very serious or even fatal injury. You should check if your travel insurance covers you for the relevant activity and you should note that failure to wear a crash helmet might void your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.
Indecent behavior, including mooning, is not tolerated. The police have made it clear that they will not hesitate to arrest those who do it. You should be aware that the courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently.
Mainland Greece and most of the Greek islands popular with tourists are in seismically active zones, and earth tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur.
Forest fires are comparatively common during Greek hot and dry summers. Please take care when visiting or driving through heavily forested areas.
Private health insurance for expats
We can provide comprehensive expatriate health insurance plans, as well as vision and dental plans, to foreign nationals in Greece that will afford you with the highest levels of coverage available should you not be able to obtain public healthcare. Plans that we provide are globally portable and guaranteed renewable for life, giving you the assurance that no matter what happens you will always have the coverage that you need.
Our Greece expat health insurance plans can be tailored to meet your exact requirements and in many cases, we are able to offer Greece international health insurance policies with no deductibles or excesses. In addition to this, the policies we offer can include a number of additional benefits, such as coverage for out-patient treatment, dental and maternity protection, complementary medicines, specialist consultations, alternative therapies, and emergency evacuation.
All of these give you the assurance that no matter what happens and where in the world you happen to be, you will always have the protection that you need. Contact us today for a free quote and insurance consultation!