The Fine Print of Health Care in Greece

The Hellenic Republic consists of over eleven million residents with a little over five percent are immigrants. With a low population growth and death rates also low, this makes the median age quite high among the European countries. There are many health related issues with immigrants and tourists. These include diarrhea, cholera, E.Coli diarrhea, hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever and a whole host of issues from bacteria, parasites and other viruses. With temperatures that reach the forties in the Celsius scale, the system of health care in Greece thus becomes an issue when in the country.

There have been many moves designed to improve the system of health care in Greece. This despite the fact that the country has been chosen as among the best systems in the world by the World Health Organization. The system of health care in Greece is a mix of both social insurance working with the Greek National Health System. This homogeny makes the overall cost of health care in Greece amongst the lowest in the European Union. The allocation of the government for health care is also low, with general focus of the disbursement of the funds in public hospitals in the highly urbanized areas of the country. The disparity of health care in the urban and rural areas create the perception of low quality, despite the modernity of the public hospital facilities in the cities.

The European Union has made inroads in upgrading the current system in Greece, through aid programs for the establishment of hospitals, creation of mobile medical facilities, improvement of emergency care systems and the use of cutting edge medical equipment not only in the urban hospitals but also in the rural hospitals. The National Health System also provides health care services at free or low cost for those individuals contributing to the social security system. The free services include free laboratory services, maternity care, installation of life saving devices and transportation for the sick and infirm. For European Union citizens visiting the country, they can also avail of these menu of services with their registration using a E111 form.

Specialists in the system of health care in Greece can be consulted directly but many experience long lines to avail of their expertise in public hospitals. Patients can go instead to private specialists and reimburse 85% of the cost from the Idrima Kinonikon Asfalisseon, the Greek National Health Care System oversight body. As for dental and eye procedures, these are free under the system. Non-essential medication and health accessories though are charged for their full cost.

Emergencies are provided free regardless of nationality or coverage. Many public hospitals have smaller outpatient clinics to assuage the congestion in the main hospitals. These also provide specific and quicker medical care than the larger facilities. As for European Union citizens, the E106 can be the lifeline for an individual while in the Greek isles. As for retirees, the Greek system allows for full benefit of state health benefits while receiving their pensions from their home country social security system.

The system of health care in Greece receives high marks for its quality while the quantity of services leaves much room for improvement. As advised in the Expat Forum, you need to understand that “expatriates who are working in Greece and pay regular contribution to social security may be entitled to full or subsidized health care benefits. In such cases, private health insurance can cover the portion of the bill that cannot be covered by the government.”

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