All European citizens are entitled to reciprocal health care in Greece but you will need to have a European Health Insurance Card (this replaces the old E111 form):
Note however that the EU Health Card is intended to cover basic and essential medical care costs only – such eventualities as repatriation are not covered and can be extremely costly, so it is advisable to have extra private holiday insurance. If required medical records need to be forwarded to the IKA (Idrina Kinonikon Asfalisseon), which has regional offices and branches known as ‘parartimata’. You should only visit doctors and dentists registered under the IKA scheme.
Most visitors to Greece have found that in case of health problems the local chemist should be the first port of call. A visit to a private doctor can cost upwards of 50€ whereas pharmacists, who are highly qualified in Greece, give free consultations. Furthermore antibiotics, sleeping pills and many other drugs that are usually only available on prescription in many countries can be got over the counter in a Greek pharmacy. You will need your passport for identification purposes however. Greek pharmacists can often provide repeat prescriptions also.
You are free to choose your doctor or dentist and aren’t required to register. You also don’t need a referral from your doctor to see a specialist. Specialists generally have waiting lists, but if it’s urgent you can usually pay to see a private specialist and claim back most of the costs afterwards through your European Health Insurance coverage (or private policy).
If you are going to be working permanently in Greece or are going there to retire you need to get hold of a medical booklet (or ‘iatrico vivliario’) from your local IKA office. This must be shown each time you visit a doctor or hospital. Doctor and hospital treatment within the Greek system is free, but you will be charged 25 per cent of the cost of prescriptions (pensioners pay ten per cent). Most foreign residents also subscribe to a complementary health insurance fund that pays the portion of medical bills not covered by social security. Otherwise private health insurance will be needed, which is in fact mandatory for non-EU residents when applying for a visa or residence permit. Note that some foreign insurance companies don’t provide sufficient cover to satisfy Greek regulations: it’s recommended to check with the Greek embassy or consulate in your home town regarding this.
Make a note of these useful numbers, which can be dialled within Greece from any phone:
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Athens is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Greece. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Greece: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
For more information on expat health insurance in Greece, visit our partner APRIL International