Healthcare in Greece


how does the healthcare system work in Greece ? Is it efficient ?

What are the main differences between public and private sectors?

Is it recommended to purchase private health insurance in Greece?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience !


I can only speak for my own experience but I have always found it very good. I have been in the IKA system for several years now and my partner and I have had experience of both public and private doctors.

We're on Symi and have used local doctors, private doctors in Rhodes and Rhodes hospital and, dare I say it, compared to previous experiences with UK hospitals and the NHS, many things are better here. (Example: A friend here needed a hernia op and was able to book in to the hospital the next day, while in the UK my 85 year old godfather had to wait two years in his area.)

Other friends have had private health insurance and found that they had to pay out and then claim back later, and the insurance didn't cover everything. It depends on your company I expect, but I don't have direct experience of private insurance.

When using a private doctor I found I was able to call in, or phone, make an immediate appointment, refer myself as it were. Ok, you have to pay, but I, for example, have had consultations, scans and examinations lasting 45 minutes, and for only €50 to €70. Other treatments are probably more expensive I guess, again it depends. But I also found that the doctors speak English which is a help if you don't speak ‘medical' Greek, and all private Drs I've been to have given out receipts!

I also find that if you have to pay for prescriptions or medicine it can be really expensive, but if you are in a scheme like IKA (or one of the others) then the price is much less. To be in one of the government schemes you have to be working, or self employed – and there may be other ways around this that I don't know about. And of course, at the moment things may not be as rosy as they were last time we needed the Greek health service. But I for one would rather be in it than out of it.



In order to help expats and soon-to-be expats, we would like to invite you to share your experience on this topic, with updated info on the healthcare system.

Thank you in advance,

Julie Team

Of course, it depends where you live and I can only account for my experiences in the Evros Region in Eastern Macedonia.

Firstly, doctors in Greece are well respected and well educated people. I am a pensioner and I subscribe to the Greek medical service, firstly because I know my doctor and secondly, I know the local chemist; incidentally both called George. I am a diabetic with a minor heart problem, which in Bulgaria was hardly diagnosed when I lived there, due to certain cultural discrepancies. Greece is light years ahead from the ju-ju men and women of Eastern Europe and one might discover that one's doctor may have even been trained in the UK.

So a monthly visit to Dr. George is easy to organize and a prescription is quickly forthcoming - I use email, but others may not be able to short cut the process, although it does help my doctor, organize his time better - and as a pensioner, I no longer have to pay him. Others have to pay 30 Euro's a visit, but mine comes into a different arrangement and I am treated like a local Greek. However, I do have to pay towards my medicines which on average is about 10% of the costs. The rest is allegedly paid for by the British Government.

Public medicine in Greece, works for me and even the emergency services are reasonably efficient at present. But, a word of warning, which relates to the present difficulties experienced by the Greek economy. Although Greece offers a full service at present, due to non payment of wages and financial cutbacks, the level of medical care might suffer.You may imply from this remark that it is virtually a cash economy at present and those who are considering moving to Greece might also find difficulty with using an insurance policy, unless you are in a main City or town. But, the provinces may be a better bet, so think it through.

Hi. I'm living in Rhodes. im a housewife and have recently been through the hospital and doctors with a fractured leg.

We have very good comprehensive international private health care we pay for.

The service I received was fantastic. The doctors are all very professional and the care given quickly. I know that in the UK I would have had to wait for things like an MRI but it was instant in Euromedica the private hospital here.

We didn't have to pay anything, they have an office called the international office and they made all the calls emails and faxes to get prior approval from our insurance company for all the treatment I needed.

My parents are retired here and they receive free healthcare through the agreement our countries have. They have always been very happy with the doctors and level of care given. My mother did opt to go private last year when she needed a small op that required a local anesthetic. But that was personal thing as she was frightened. However, they didn't have to pay full price, it was subsidised by their EKA they ended up paying just 40% of the costs.

The only issue we've had recently is with access to drugs. Due to the current financial situation the chemists are not getting their supplies and we have had times when my parents medication has been running out and there was none to buy. I can only see this getting worse as the financial crisis deepens.

Last year a young british woman working here was in a serious motorbike accident, I know that all her initial care was covered by her IKA payments and I believe lots of the follow up care. However she didn't have insurance at all and funds were raised to send her home. I think you should always have some form of insurance when travelling or living overseas.

We have found that paying privately for basic doctors / consultants / dentist well worth it.
To give some examples:-

A 3 hour consultation for both my wife and I with a cardiologist including
7 lead heart trace both, and for my wife a follow up 5 lead, 24 hour mobile monitor heart trace cost 200 euro.

Appointment with Endocrinologist 50 euro

Thyroid ultra scan 40 euro

Full blood profile involving some 12 blood tests 100 euro

Full chest X-ray 50 euro

what is more results given to you the same day !

Yes it is wise to be part of IKA etc., and if retired and living in Greece obtaining the UK S1., however sometimes
if finances permit the private, direct approach is well worth it, and of course unlike the UK you do not have to go to a GP to arrange (gain permission) for a consultants appointment.

Around 3 years ago i had a very seriouse health problem and i had to go through a costy long term  treatment in a public hospital. I didnt have IKA at that time, but i had a private insurance.
So guess what happened..the private insurance said they would cover the costs if i could pay it first and then they would give me some of the money back. Since i didnt have thousands of euros to support this, my family from home had to  make a blue card from my country which was available for emergencies only.
Meanwhile i passed on my partner's IKA insurance so i could be able to start the treatment.
The private inssurance paid me back around 300 euros after one year
So private insurance??? NO WAY
Always go for the public, the doctors are great and most of them are educated outside of Greece, not that this  would make a change. Plus you can get the drugs almost free.
So stay healthy and chose wise, whoever you are !

Hi,just to say that everyones experiences are different and mine are,I have IKA or now called pethee I think, under my husbands contributions with my own book,my husband also pays into a private scheme through his job with his employer paying some also each month,it may be a problem to have to pay upfront with the private companies and then claim it back.The private companies dont ever pay the total,they let IKA pay for any drugs used if in hospital privately and possibly the room or bed per night.My husbands job now uses a new company that doesnt make you pay upfront.Some IKA hospitals are better than others,Evangelismos is good but now there is a very low moral in state hospitals and the best doctors/nurses are leaving for the private sector and or abroad where the pay and conditions are better.The mattresses of IKA beds are not covered with a water-proof membrane ,neither are the pillows which if you see them underneath you will be disgusted and realise that you may die in there from an illness that you never went in with.I have been into many private hospitals here in Athens and I received top surgeons,top care for pain relief and top food except once I wasnt allowed to eat for a week and the food was like top dog hotel passing by me every day.With private care you can discuss with your surgeon about finding a cheaper hospital so that your contribution in the end will be less,my husband did that with a nose op and after the surgeon ascertained if all the required instrumentation was there we went ahead,this is the great thing here,check out the private hospital the surgeon wants to use,if you find out its crazy money for the hospital fees then heard of that hospital,my bank balance is small...OK...somwhere else cheaper....You wouldnt want the IKA hospitals on some of the Islands,Samos for example sometimes doesnt even have protective gloves and the staff refuse to touch anybody.I have been left once on a commode in bed in an IKA hospital for so many hours that my buttocks were black and blue from the pressure,no body came,lazy nurses,if we can call them nurses,even the private nurses dont like working,and I had 2 student doctors once trying to force a tube the size of a garden hose down my throat,I was only saved by a senior doctor screaming at them to stop because that was the wrong tube,wrong size.I would go private anyday and I believe that the best surgeons have now gone over to the private sector.

Hi Concertina!
I didn't want to open a dispute here over this subject, but I can not be indifferent to so many untruths that you wrote here. And afterall, we are talking about people's health and their ways to get to it in the best way that suits them.
1. I don't know in which public hospital have you been in Athens, but I was in Metaxa public hospital where I did a treatment for one year and I must tell you that I DID slept on water-proof membrane mattress and pillow which were disinfected each time another patient came by nurses that were NOT lazy at all. Even more, they had a button close to bed which one could press anytime he/she needed something and they always came.
2. The food was and still is great and healthy .
3. I was first diagnosed in Kerkyra island in a public hospital, were I was sent by the ''very well trained private specialists'' because they couldn't find my diagnose , which delated me and the treatment for one month
I think , as you said we shouldn't generalize and you cant throw with stones in the public system either, just because you had a different experience.
Maybe the best way is to have both private and public insurance for whoever can afford it
However, chose wise, read well and ask a million of questions before you pay for anything private.
Be cool and stay healthy!

I didnt write untruths...lies...I dont tell lies....that was my experience and you had yours and Im very glad that yours was good and everything turned out well for you under the state care.I hope that people are still not having to put a relatively large amount of money into an envelope for the state surgeon otherwise he or she wont do the op but unfortunately I hear that this form of blackmail does certainly continue.We must wait to see how the state health care system manages itself given the fact that very little funds have been forwarded to it in the last few years for drugs and out-sourced private care along with many other things.I think you were lucky in your experience,I have been here 20 years or so and as such have seen many things,my mother in law was in a state hospital for a knee cap replacement,after the op she was obviously in pain...great pain....she was begging for pain relief,I was begging but they refused and said that she could have it about 10 pm so that she would be quiet for the night staff.The room next door had a lot of patients and they were being washed down below with the door to the corridor wide open and with all the visitors inside,all her genitalia on full view for the whole corridor and people inside,every time I closed the door the nurse would scream...who closes the door,open it....We had to keep paying a nurse to do what she should do, regularly every day money.I have had to suffer a colonoscopy without anesthetic and they brought loads of young doctors to look at my rear-end in a state hospital.I have also been held down in a state hospital by two humungus nurses and an endoscopy performed without sedation.I could tell loads more of the degradation,disrespect abhorant things I have suffered and I have seen in state hospitals, consider yourself fortunate,I believe Greeks are cold hearted without sensitivity.I noticed you picked up about the beds instead of saying...Jesus,were you really treated in this way?...humans dont change.


Little reminder

Kindly stick to the current subject at hand.

This forum is meant to be a platform for experience sharing and aiding each other mutually.

Thank you,

hello i am from the usa i have family in athens greece,im trying to find a doctor to prescribe pain management prescription meds,if you have any info please let me know .thank you johnny dimitropoulos ,,,

hello im from usa i have family in athens greece,im trying to find a doctor who specializes in pain management prescription medication if you have any information please let me know,, thank you johnny,,,

hello im from usa i have family in athens greece,im trying to find a doctor who specializes in pain management prescription medication if you have any information please let me know,, thank you johnny,,,

hello im from usa i have family in athens greece,im trying to find a doctor who specializes in pain management prescription medication if you have any information please let me know,, thank you johnny,,,***

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