The Greek Health System
The Greek national health system provides healthcare benefits/services through a network of public/state providers and contracted private providers of primary, hospital and ambulatory care with the aim to ensure disease prevention and the promotion, preservation, improvement, recovery and protection of health. The presence of private providers is more obvious in primary care, especially in diagnostic technologies, private physicians’ practices and pharmaceuticals.
The system is financed by the state budget, social insurance contributions and private payments.
The National Organization for the Provision of Health Services (Greek acronym EOPYY) negotiates contracts and remunerates health professionals on the basis of a Health Benefits Regulation (Greek acronym EKPY) prescribing the benefits basket for the beneficiaries of the system.
The health benefits basket includes:
- medical treatment
- diagnostic/laboratory/clinical tests
- dental treatment
- physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychotherapy
- medication, consumables, dietary supplements, medical devices
- hospital treatment
- supplementary healthcare (orthopedics, eyeglasses, hearing aids, prosthetics etc)
- long-term care
- obstetric care and ivf
- healthcare abroad
- vaccination programs
Primary healthcare is provided by:
EOPYY- contracted private healthcare providers (doctors, diagnostic centers, private clinics, chronic hemodialysis units)
PEDY Units (National Primary Healthcare Network) – public healthcare
State hospitals, health centers, rural and regional medical units of the National Health System (greek acronym ESY)
Purely private health professionals, without a contract with EOPYY, paid privately.
Hospital healthcare is provided by:
EOPYY contracted private clinics.
State hospitals of the National Health System (ESY), free of charge for health services within the national health benefits basket.
Private hospitals and clinics.
Contracted private doctors have a limit of 200 patients’ visits per month, which will be remunerated by EOPYY, so one may expect to pay privately when visiting a contracted doctor who has reached the 200-consultation ceiling for the particular month.
At the Pharmacist’s there is usually a co-payment of 25% of the cost of medicinal products. Some patients’ groups, such as the chronically ill and pregnant women, receive medicines free of charge or pay a reduced co-payment.
In emergencies, one can go directly to a public hospital. The phone line 166 provides information on which hospitals are on-call duty. Urgent medical care is always free of charge.
Emergency ambulance (phone line 166) transport to a public hospital is free of charge. Transportation by air ambulance, which is the responsibility of the National Centre for Emergency Care (greek acronym EKAV) is free of charge in most cases, for example when having to be transported from an island (more than 2.000 islands in Greece, more than 200 are inhabited) to the mainland due to a critical health condition.
Usually a doctor will provide a referral for hospital treatment. Although healthcare within the framework of the national health benefits basket is free in the public/state providers, the insured patient is expected to pay a co-payment when opting for contracted private hospital healthcare providers.