As in much of Europe, healthcare in Greece is comprised of a two-tier system. Public healthcare is available for all working residents free of charge, but you can opt to take out private health insurance too.The public health service is known as Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας or ‘ESY.’ Emergency care is always free for everyone, regardless of nationality, but general care is only available if you are a registered resident of Greece or one of the islands, and you are making contributions to the national health service through your employment.
Taking Out Private Health Insurance In Greece
You will need to take out private health cover in Greece at least to cover the interim period while you wait for your residency to be processed. Proof of health insurance is a requirement for residency.
Signing up for private health insurance is easy and should be done before you arrive in the country. A number of big international insurers, such as Cigna and BUPA, cover Greece, and there are also local companies that offer health cover.
Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover you until your residency and your public health registration have both gone through: bear in mind that this could take several months, and the Greek government does not guarantee a specific deadline for processing, so it would probably make sense to take out health insurance for a one-year period. This should also help to keep your premiums low, since many insurers charge more for shorter periods of time.
Registering With The Public Health Service
To be eligible for public healthcare in Greece, you will first of all need to obtain residency. Unlike in many other countries, there is no minimum period you have to stay in order to qualify as a resident, but you will need to jump through some bureaucratic hoops.
To obtain residency, you will need to go to your closest dimarchio (Δημαρχείο): the local town hall. If you live in a city, your nearest police station might also have a department that deals with residency.
You will need to take:
• your passport as proof of ID;
• your Greek visa showing how long you are staying and the purpose of your stay;
• two passport-style photographs;
• proof of residence, for example a rental contract;
• proof that you have enough money to finance your stay (for example, bank statements);
• an employment contract;
• your receipt from when you paid the residency fee to the national tax office.
As well as the above, you will also need two health-related items. Firstly, you will need to take proof of medical insurance. You will not be covered by Greek public healthcare until after you have become a resident, and in the interim Greece requires everyone to take out private cover.
Before your appointment at the dimarchio, you will also need to visit a Greek hospital and pay for a medical check-up to show that you do not have any contagious diseases. After your check-up, the doctor will give you a medical certificate, which you should take with you to the dimarchio when you go to sort out your residency.
Any of the documents you bring that are not in Greek must be translated by a certified translator.
You will receive a blue paper to confirm that your residency is being processed — you can use this as a temporary proof of residency while you wait. Your full residency should come through within one month if you have been transferred to Greece by your employer, but if you are living in Greece under different circumstances then it can take several months to come through.
Once you have your proof of residency, you can take this to your local doctor when you want to register.
If you are employed by a company in Greece, you will have been set up with a TAXISnet account by your employer, and they should have given you the details already. If not, ask your HR department to share these details with you. If you are self-employed, you will have had to set this up when you registered your company or set up a bank account.
Log in to TAXISnet and enter your social security number (AMKA). Once you have logged in, you will be directed to a screen where you will be able to see whether you have been registered with a doctor already. Sometimes your employer will do this automatically — if this is the case, the doctor’s name and surgery details will show up on the screen. Then you can simply make an appointment to see the doctor as and when required.
If your employer has not registered you with a doctor, you will see a page that asks you where you live. Fill in the boxes provided and a new page will appear that shows you a list of doctors in your local area who are taking on new patients. Choose one of these and click ‘OK.’
Your public health service registration will now be submitted for processing. You will receive confirmation via email when your doctor has verified your registration. You can also find out whether your registration has finished processing by logging back into TAXISnet and checking the healthcare page.
Once you have received your confirmation email, you can make an appointment with your doctor. Make sure you read the email thoroughly, since some doctors might need you to bring along your passport and proof of residency to your first appointment to verify your identity and finish the setup process.
You do not need to register with a specific pharmacy when moving to Greece — you can simply take your prescription along to the nearest pharmacy (φαρμακείο) and they will dispense the medication to you. Bear in mind that, especially in rural areas, many pharmacists will not speak English, so you might want to take an interpreter with you if you are worried about getting the right dose.
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