While the overall standard of healthcare in Greece is generally high, the public sector is often undermined by issues such as corruption, lack of funding and mismanagement.
In an attempt to streamline the system and fight corruption, the Greek government has introduced universal social security numbers and electronic prescriptions and has also channelled resources to Greece's larger hospitals.
Expats who work in Greece make compulsory contributions to the public healthcare system, as do their employers. These contributions give expats access to the public system.
Private healthcare services are popular among those who can afford them, and expats with the means to do so are advised to take out a private medical insurance policy to cover costs.
Public healthcare in Greece
Public hospitals in Greece are generally adequate and home to professionals who do their best to deliver quality care. However, the bureaucracy and culture of corruption involved in the public healthcare sector brings down the quality of care significantly. There are also long waiting periods.
While some hospitals in more remote locations on islands may provide a lower standard of healthcare, the best public hospitals – usually concentrated in the major cities – offer care of a high standard. It is often the case that expats who require more sophisticated care than island hospitals can provide will be transported to a hospital in Athens or Thessaloniki.
Most medical staff in Greece will speak some level of English, though this may differ based on their position and the location of the hospital.
EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.
Private healthcare in Greece
Private healthcare in Greece is generally considered to be superior to the public alternative. Private medical facilities are often less affected by the country’s economic situation and have newer equipment. Expats who would prefer to go to a private hospital in Greece would do well to have a private healthcare policy since they will be responsible for the full cost of their treatment.
Moreover, doctors and nurses in private hospitals are more likely to speak English. Some Greek private hospitals even have affiliations with US hospitals or hospitals in other countries, and their staff will have had at least some form of overseas training.
Pharmacies in Greece
Pharmacies in Greece are normally marked by a green cross. They are widely available, especially in larger cities, and are generally a reliable first line of defence against illness. Many Greek pharmacists will speak English and are capable diagnosticians who may save expats a trip to the doctor.
Emergency services in Greece
Public ambulances are widely available in larger cities, but access may be restricted on some islands and rural areas. In these cases, private ambulances, helicopters and taxis may be legitimate alternatives depending on the situation.
General emergency: 112