Greece has enormous appeal for expat workers, offering a pleasing climate, olive trees everywhere, the golden shores of Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and amiable souls who always lend a helping hand. Add to these the incredible ruins and cities that reach back three thousand years, and you can see why it is such a sought-after destination.
While Greece does well as a tourist stop, there is much lacking in the way of social security for residents. It is one of the poorest among EU nations, and it recently defaulted on loans from various European governments. It has since been bailed out but remains in unstable financial condition.
The Greek public healthcare system is not up to the mark of its northern neighbors. It is perilous to live there without an expat health insurance plan that cares for your health and wellbeing.
Greece’s Public Healthcare System – A Brief Walkthrough
In 1981, Greece passed laws that set up of the National Healthcare Service (Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας or ΕΣΥ). The Greek NHS operates more than 125 hospitals and has a total of 40,000 beds and counting. In addition, there are more than 10 military hospitals. This is worth mentioning because Greece has huge per capita expenditure on the military (almost $5,000 USD, among the highest in the world), and these military hospitals are world-class. There are also teaching hospitals in Athens.
Other than general and specialized hospitals, Greece also has about 200 primary healthcare centers scattered throughout the nation.
The hospitals have a strange policy of admission: Many hospitals are not open on particular days of the week. There is no public hospital in Greece that is open 7 days a week. If you need to visit a public hospital, make a note of which ones are open on which days upon your arrival in the country.
An EU national can get access to Greece’s public healthcare through an EHIC, or European Health Card. Non-EU nationals need to have E111 permission through a Schengen visa if they are going to reside for a short duration.
Those who plan to live in Greece longer than a few months have to enlist under EFKA, or the Unified Social Security Fund. It is a social insurance program that is mandatory for Greeks. Upon enrollment, you will be given a social security number known as AMKA that allows you to seek treatment free of cost at public hospitals and purchase medications at subsidized rates.
Public Healthcare in Greece
The Greek National Healthcare Service has been devastated by the 2020 financial crisis. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the state of public healthcare in Greece is abysmal, and up to 10% of admissions result in fatal infections.
The standard of care varies widely depending on where you are located. Better-quality care is available in places like Athens (the capital) and Thessaloniki compared to the rest of the country. The lines at emergency rooms are long, and test results are nearly always delayed. Figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development show that healthcare expenditure has fallen by a third and now amounts to less than 5% of GDP.
Private Health Insurance in Greece
You cannot trust your life to such a precarious system. Thankfully, almost all the well-known global private medical insurance companies offer coverage that is valid in Greece.
Due to the breakdown of the government-funded system, a large number of private hospitals and clinics operate throughout the country. These are far more efficient than their public counterparts, and you are almost assured of a better outcome.
Greek Expat Health Insurance – The Finer Points
Buying overseas insurance products is tricky. It is one thing to be in your own country, where you can discuss any complications with your health insurance provider. It is quite another to be overseas, alone and ill. If you face any problems, you cannot renegotiate the terms. Hence, we have put together a checklist that enables you to buy the policy that best fits your needs.
- Geographical Coverage: If you are visiting Greece, you would most likely plan to visit nearby countries like Italy, Spain, and Turkey for vacation. But do you really want to buy new travel insurance for every weekend you spend at these destinations? That is why you must have an expat health insurance policy that covers you in several countries at the same time. It is best to buy a policy that covers you worldwide (sans the U.S. if you are not a U.S. citizen).
- Home Country Advantage: You would, of course, be going back home from time to time. Why opt for a second policy for domestic coverage? Buy one that covers you everywhere, home and abroad. It saves you the time and hassle of familiarizing yourself with two separate policies. Also, it saves you a few dollars.
- Translation: Greek hospitals would provide you with test results in the local dialect. Also, you cannot rely on a Greek physician to be fluent in English. That is why you need to have a translation service. This will allow you to understand if the sickness is severe enough for you to fly back home or continue in Greece after a few weeks' recovery.
- Repatriation and Evacuation: Many residents of Greece seek treatment in Germany. It is less than an hour away by air. However, an air ambulance is expensive, and your insurance would need to include coverage for evacuation. Similarly, you might wish to be taken back home if you feel you would receive better treatment in familiar surroundings. That is why evacuation and repatriation are important clauses to include.
Stay Safe with Expat Health Coverage
Don’t worry about ending up overpaying for your expat health insurance for Greece. Use our website to compare multiple plans and find the best possible private medical insurance at a price point that works for you.
Provide your age, gender, and area of coverage, and you will then be able to compare several quotes and policy details. Click and buy the one you wish. Remain safe and covered while working in Greece, with a comprehensive expat health insurance plan.