Those who intend to stay in Greece for shorter periods of time, such as a month, should prioritize purchasing visitors health insurance, especially if they aren’t protected by an international health plan.
For those planning a longer stay, up to six months, there are several options: a standard travel insurance policy, a specialized long-term policy, or a comprehensive international health insurance policy. The latter option provides coverage both at home and while traveling abroad. The sheer variety of premium costs requires thorough research and comparison.
A notable feature of many international policies is the inclusion of repatriation or evacuation, which may be optional. This can include the airlifting of a person who unfortunately dies abroad back to their home country for last rites.
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The Value Proposition: Safety and Financial Security
Clearly, visitor health insurance isn’t just about compliance or paperwork. It is a shield against potential medical expenses, unforeseen hospitalizations and emergency evacuations. Knowing that your financial and medical needs will be met in the event of an unexpected incident is invaluable.
Imagine a scenario where a traveler, immersed in the serenity of the Greek mountains, suffers an accident. The resulting medical expenses could be overwhelming without insurance. However, a comprehensive health insurance plan alleviates these financial concerns, allowing the individual to focus on recovery.
Diverse Coverage Options Tailored for Travelers
Health insurance for visitors to Greece is not a monolithic concept. Plans offer myriad coverage options that include:
- Medical expenses
- Interruption of travel
- Delayed or missed flights
- Lost or misplaced baggage
- Personal liability
Private medical facilities are covered by comprehensive travel insurance. For residents of the European Union (EU), the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides access to public hospital services.
It’s important to note that the public healthcare infrastructure in Greece can sometimes suffer from long waiting times and overcrowding. Nevertheless, the Greek National Health Service streamlines access to specialist consultations.
Selecting the ideal health insurance plan
Choosing the right insurance policy requires an understanding of one’s unique needs and the coverage options available. A basic requirement for medical expenses and repatriation in Greece is €30,000. Purchasing travel insurance as soon as travel plans are finalized ensures protection against sudden disruptions before departure.
Key considerations include
- Length of stay
- Planned activities
- Pre-existing medical conditions
For thrill-seekers engaging in adventurous endeavors such as rock climbing or scuba diving, it’s imperative that their insurance covers these activities. Likewise, any pre-existing health conditions should either be covered by the chosen policy or addressed through additional coverage.
Practical Tips for Expats and Visitors
- It’s advisable to travel in the off-season if you have health concerns, as this avoids the intense summer heat.
- In case of any medical emergencies, ambulances can be reached at 166 and doctors are available on every island. Emergency care is free in Greece.
- EU citizens can use an EHIC card for free emergency treatment and discounted non-emergency care.
- Non-EU visitors need travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Look for plans with high coverage limits and evacuation benefits.
- Expats working in Greece can pay into EFKA for public coverage. Check if your employer makes contributions.
- Consider private Greek or international health insurance if you want expanded coverage and provider choice. Compare plans for deductibles, premiums, and covered services.
- Keep records of medical expenses and all plan documents. Understand what is covered so you can maximize your benefits.
- Stay up to date on changes to healthcare laws and insurance plans that could impact coverage and costs.
- Use preventive care and follow public health guidance to stay healthy. This can reduce medical costs.
- Research hospitals to find the best care. Quality varies between private and public facilities and urban vs rural areas.
- Greece has universal public coverage but private options offer more choice and shorter wait times.
- Private Greek/international insurance provides the most flexibility.
Medical Emergencies in Greece
In the case of a medical emergency in Greece, it is important to know that emergency medical services can be reached by dialing 166. This will connect you with Greece’s National Center for Emergency Care, known as EKAB, which coordinates ambulance services across the country.
Ambulances are staffed by trained paramedics and emergency medical technicians who can provide urgent care. On the Greek islands, smaller medical centers and rural clinics may have more limited capacities, but doctors should still be available to assist with emergencies.
The emergency number 166 can be dialed free of charge from any phone and personnel typically speak English. EKAB will dispatch an ambulance to your location as quickly as possible.
Emergency care is free in Greece, even for visitors and those without insurance. This includes emergency room treatment, ambulance transportation, and any necessary medications or procedures done in the ER. However, follow-up care and hospitalization may require payment or insurance coverage. So it’s still advisable to have travel medical insurance when visiting Greece in case you need continued treatment after an emergency.