Similarly to many other EU countries, Greece operates on a universal healthcare system. Though here, it's more known as the National Health System (ESY). This ultimately means that the government provides health coverage to all citizens and residents of the country, as well as a good number of private insurers that offer premium plans. Most people are encouraged to get coverage here, mostly to ensure that they can avail of the many health services without going bankrupt. However, unfortunately, not all people in the country are granted this right. There are certain limitations to accessing Greece's National Health System.
What are those limitations, exactly? Your legal status in the country. Only citizens and residents of Greece are able to access the country's National Health System. If you want public coverage, you can only do so if you've legally moved to the country or even get official citizenship. But if you're merely a visitor here, you're not allowed to avail of some of the benefits of public health insurance. Your only chance of getting healthcare here as a non-resident is to get travel medical insurance, which you can get from international private health insurers such as Allianz Care, Cignal Global, and the like.
So, what exactly does Greece's Nationa Health System give you if you're able to access it? The Social Insurance Institute (IKA) is the ultimate authority of the countries healthcare system. They determine which benefits people with public health coverage enjoy. The ultimate benefit is free medical care from IKA-approved medical professionals and practitioners. This also applies to certain surgeries and operations that would ahve otherwise cost you thousands of euros. Other benefits also include free maternity care, unlimited laboratory access, subsidized rates for certain medical appliances, and, of course, free emergency services. Though emergency services are available for everyone in the country, even for non-residents.
While public health coverage is paid for by the federal government, medical services and benefits from private insurance plans are mostly provided and paid for by the insurers themselves. This includes access to doctors and other medical professionals (mostly in private practice) under contract with the insurance companies themselves. As well as access to affiliated private hospitals. This is mostly the reason why people get private health coverage. They subsidize the rates of the man expensive treatments offered in private hospitals. Moreover, many of the staff in these institutions are able to speak English well.
Speaking of emergency services, though they're widely available in more urban areas, you can still expect to avail of them even in the rural parts of Greece. They mostly consist of public ambulance services, also known as EKAV, that will rush to you when you urgently need them. Just dial 112 on your phone and you can expect one to go to you as soon as possible. However, in the rare case that a standard ambulance is unavailable or it's not enough to get to you, you can also expect emergency helicopters to come and get you and bring you to the nearest medical facility.
Most medicines in Greece are offered at affordable rates, allowing locals to purchase them easily when they need to. Though do expect that some prescribed drugs to be a bit pricier. You'll only get subsidized rates for them depending on your plan. Fortunately, it's easy to get as much medicine as you can here in Greece pharmacies are a dime a dozen here. Once you see an establishment with a green cross on a white background, that's a pharmacy. Luckily a lot of the people who manage them are easy to talk to and many of them can speak English.
If you have plans to staying in Greece for a long time or actually living here, you need to familiarize yourself with the country's national healthcare system. You'll find that the system offers many medical benefits that can save and sustain your life.
If you can, go for a Greek luxury rental for your accommodation here. You have better chances of staying healthy and safe in such places.