Accessing Healthcare in Greece

Greece has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are frequently visited by international tourists. Site like the Acropolis and Delphi has become a natural magnet for tourism. It also boasts of pristine beaches, fabulous islands, and superb cuisine that takes pride of only the freshest ingredients either caught from the Mediterranean or grown in the fertile lands of Greece. This is why it is no wonder that tourists keep on going back to Greece because they know that this beautiful country has always something to offer.

While Greece is a relatively peaceful nation and a safe place to enjoy a weeklong holiday, you can still experience a variety of health problems because of the differences in temperature, traditions, food, and lifestyle especially when compared to what you are accustomed to in your country. Greeks enjoyed superb healthcare services that extended well to travelers who had the E111 prior to 2004 or the European Health Insurance Card thereafter. In 2000, the Greek healthcare system was rated number 14 in the world when it came to comprehensiveness, quality, accessibility, and equitability. The healthcare costs way back then were among the least expensive in the European Union.

But everything changed when the Greek economy faced a downturn. By 2011, as the nation was forced to enforce austerity measures, the Greek healthcare system also suffered immensely. Unemployed Greeks were only assured of health benefits for 12 months. Healthcare needs beyond this period are already put on the shoulders of Greeks themselves. Additionally, hospital occupancy rates as well as the number of fully functioning government hospitals were also reduced to mitigate public spending. The austerity measures added an economic burden to Greeks as everyone is now required to contribute more to the funding of medications dispensed by government pharmacies which were all manned by very competent pharmacists.

Today, Greece has slowly eased out of its economic woes.

Greek public health services are provided by the ESY, or the Greek National Healthcare Service. A great majority of Greeks seek medical and healthcare services from institutions that are funded by the national health insurance. There are also some Greeks who prefer to obtain private medical treatments.

The Greek state healthcare system provides free treatments, maternity care, and diagnostic procedures to anyone who contributes to the national social security system. In instances where the service is not free, these are nonetheless offered at a low price.

In medical emergencies, everyone is entitled to free emergency medical treatment in Greece’s public hospitals regardless of the nationality of the patient. Calling for an ambulance service requires you to dial 166.

Some of the more common health issues encountered by travelers to Greece include diarrhea, typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A and B. There have also been issues of E. coli infections which are often manifested by stomach cramps and loose watery stools. As majority of visitors flock to the beaches of Greece especially during the hot summer months, it is not uncommon to see people suffering from sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. In some cases prickly heat and dehydration can also be experienced. Traveling to Greece does not require any immunizations. However, it is a lot better to be on the safe side by having yourself vaccinated against hepatitis A and B infections.

Enjoying a holiday in Greece is best accomplished if your European Health Insurance Card is always with you. This gives you the right to receive treatment from the public or government hospitals scattered all over Greece just as any other Greek resident or national does. If you choose to obtain medical treatment from a private institution, make sure you have a private medical insurance as EHIC will not cover this. Additionally, if you require repatriation as well as coverage for lost baggage or even cancelled or delayed flights, a travel insurance is needed, not the EHIC. As such, it is highly recommended that you complement or augment the coverage of your EHIC with these 2 other protective policies.

In case you will be using your EHIC in Greece and you are obliged to pay for a particular service, always ask for an official receipt as well as other relevant documents. You can use these to claim reimbursement before you leave for your home country.

People traveling to the European Union as well as the European Free Trade Association can benefit a lot from the European Health Insurance Card. That’s why before traveling to Greece or any of these countries, you need to secure your EHIC first. Let MyEHIC help you in your application. They can make sure that your travels will be secured with your own EHIC.