If you’re planning to take up residence in Greece and will be contributing to Greek social security, you and your family will be entitled to subsidized or (in certain cases) free medical and dental treatment. The Greek national health system is operated by the Idrima Kinonikon Asfalisseon (IKA).
When you start work in Greece you must obtain a medical booklet (iatrico vivliario) from your local IKA office, which must be presented 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.
Most foreign residents also subscribe to a complementary health insurance fund that pays the portion of medical bills that isn’t paid by social security. Residents who don’t contribute to social security should have private health insurance, which is 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, therefore you should check the minimum cover necessary with a Greek consulate in your country of residence.
Further information about Greek social security can be obtained from IKA (www.ika.gr/en/home.cfm).
If you are not covered by Greek social security, you should apply for private health insurance. If you already have private health insurance, you may be able to extend it to cover you in Greece.
Private health insurance is popular among the Greeks and there are numerous national companies offering policies, including the following:
Foreign private health insurance companies with policies covering Greece include:
AXA PPP Healthcare (www.axappphealthcare.com)
BUPA International (www.bupa-intl.com)
Exeter Friendly Society (www.exeterfriendly.co.uk)
International Health Insurance (www.ihi.com)
Emergency treatment is free to all nationalities in public hospitals and there are outpatient clinics (yatr’a) attached to hospitals in rural areas. They are typically open from 8am to noon and treat minor health problems, and it’s often easier to obtain prompt emergency treatment here than at a public hospital.
There are 24-hour emergency hospitals in major towns and on the large islands, and private hospitals and clinics in major towns and resort areas. English-speaking Greek doctors and foreign doctors practice in resort areas and major cities, and advertise in the local expatriate press. In a medical emergency you should phone 166 for an ambulance.
Pharmacists are highly qualified in Greece and you can obtain treatment for minor ailments at chemists (farmak’o) as well as medical advice. In larger towns and resort areas, pharmacists often speak English.
Pharmacies aren’t usually open in the afternoon or weekends, but a duty roster is posted in pharmacy windows and published in the local press indicating the nearest pharmacy that’s open outside normal business hours.
Homeopathic remedies are widespread and there are homeopathic pharmacies in most large towns.