This is something of a grey area. Much of the information below is specific to UK citizens but may also apply to other EU nationals. It will probably not apply to non-EU citizens. Many people seem to think that there is some reciprocal agreement with the NHS that will provide medical cover when living in Greece. This is not entirely true.

The European Health Card, EHIC, (formerly known as E111) is issued for tourists and only valid if the holder is resident in UK. This allows visits to the IKA doctors and government hospitals. Payment may have to be made and reclaimed later.

More details

What options are there?

1. Employed persons should have IKA paid by their employer. Actually the employer pays 2/3 and deducts 1/3 from the employees salary.
After paying IKA for 1 year (50 stamps, days work) a health book can be obtained and visits made to IKA doctors and hospitals. Some things have to be paid for and then some or all of the cost can be reclaimed from IKA. If you have enough contributions to the UK NI you may be able to get temporary IKA health cover for up to 2 years using form E106. IKA, similar to the UK National Insurance scheme, provides:

  • Sickness
  • Pension
  • Unemployment
  • Certain other benefits

2. Self employed and partnerships must pay to TEVE (now called OAEE). These people can visit the same doctors as IKA insured persons. Some self employed people can pay to OGA, the farmers fund, if they have a business in a rural area. A minimum number of payments are necessary before health cover is available

3. Anyone who has a lot of money in Greece has private health insurance. Cost will depend on age. It is difficult to start private health insurance after the age of 60. Talk to insurance brokers or look at international companies such as BUPA.

4. UK citizens who are retired and eligible to UK state pension can get medical cover under a reciprocal agreement. They join the IKA scheme. The UK will also issue a EHIC card to cover travel in Europe, including visits back to UK. You will need a form E121 to cover your healthcare in the country you are moving to. You can contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for detailed information.

5. If you move to Greece before retirement age you may get health cover for up to two and a half years, depending on how many years National Insurance payments you have made. You will need to apply for an E106 form with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and prove that you have worked in the UK and paid National Insurance contributions up to three years before your departure.

6. Anyone can visit the clinic at the hospital and receive treatment for a fee of a few euro's. Most people will have to use this service for out of hours emergencies as there are no doctors on call except the private ones in tourist resorts in summer.

7. Some people stay registered with their UK doctor. Some doctors will de-register a patient if they know the patient is living overseas. UK rules state that you should hand your medical card back when you leave the UK. There are some people who are still receiving long term perscription medication from UK.

8. There are around 150 private doctors, dentists and other medical professionals (blood, radiography, pathology etc) registered on the island. Not all specialities are catered for and you may have to go to Patra or Athens for some problems. The same applies to hospital treatment, many people travel to Patra, Rio Hospital or one of the many hospitals in Athens.

What cover is available when travelling outside Greece?

For travel in EU a Greek issued EHIC could be used.The writer has not heard of anyone obtaining one. Update. From 2014, UK retired people can get an EHIC card from the UK which will give cover outside their country of residence, including trips back to UK.

In 2005, the writer could not managed to find any Greek travel insurance. Maybe this was a misunderstanding. It was apparently available with package tours bought in Greece. In 2014, at least one insurance broker was selling travel insurance but a Greek national found it difficult to find the insurance he wanted for a trip to South Africa. There are companies to be found on the internet who provide travel insurance for expats. There are limitations, one Greek national, living in Greece, was refused insuance because it was designed for UK nationals living overseas. Prices vary considerably.

When visiting UK, it may be possible to use the GP of family members in UK, signing on as overseas visitor. The writer has received a free visit to the doctor and NHS precription for medicine. See this web page