Healthcare for Visitors to Greece
The sunny Greek sunshine has long been attractive to British visitors, who flock to both the mainland and the islands every year. Most of these visits will be without incident, but a significant number of UK visitors will be injured or have an accident on a trip to Greece each year. More UK visitors than ever are making use of the EHIC reciprocal healthcare arrangements, but these have some restrictions which are important to know about.
Using EHIC Cover in Greece
EHIC is an arrangement between the UK and Greek government through the EU, so using an EHIC only gives you access to the Greek state healthcare system. This is known as EOPYY in Greece, and their website has some information in English about how the system works. This is liable to change with little notice, so check the website regularly. The website also makes it clear that you have to apply and receive your EHIC card before travelling to Greece; UK passport holders without a EHIC will not be able to access free state care. Always ensure that you are being referred to a state doctor or clinic, especially in a tourist area. Treatment by a state doctor or hospital is free of charge. If you are seen in a private clinic which is contracted to the state system, you will be expected to make a contribution towards the cost of treatment. All fees should be clearly stated up front, and you should ask for detailed invoices and receipts for any payments you make. You will also be expected to pay up to 25% of the cost of prescription medicines, and for most dental care. Many Greeks use pharmacies as their first port of call for minor ailments, and you may be able to buy items over the counter which you cannot buy in the UK. Most pharmacists will speak good English.
Travel Insurance in Greece
Many Greeks use top up private medical insurance in addition to the state health service, and being able to access private hospitals or doctors could mean you are seen more quickly. Due to the state of the Greek economy in recent years, equipment at private hospitals is generally more state of the art than in the public sector and staff are more likely to speak English. If you want to be treated privately, make sure that your insurer is happy with your chosen provider and will meet the costs of your treatment. Once admitted, make sure you keep in regular contact with your insurer, and get itemised bills from the doctors. Travel insurance will also cover the cost of transferring you from one of the islands to the mainland for further treatment if necessary, and also the cost of reorganising your flights home. If you are planning to climb or take part in riskier sports such as scuba diving or even windsurfing while on holiday in Greece, make sure you are covered for extreme sports on your travel insurance policy before leaving home.