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Thessaloniki: Pensioners Protest Health Care Cuts

Several dozens pensioners symbolically blocked access to insurance funds at the Ippokratio public hospital of Thessaloniki to protest the cuts in the Greek health sector and so-called ‘reforms’ that ofrce them out of their pockets for prescription medication.

The pensioners from private sector insurance funds like IKA, Sailor’s Fund (NAT), Self-employed Funds (OAEE)  demanded free access to health services and expressed their opposition to the new operation to the healtch care system.

“After the cuts in our pensions, now come hikes in the health.  1,300 names of prescription medicine are off the list of the health ministry and we must pay to get these drugs. Even for blood tests, we have to pay now. They want to finish us,” said Christos Salonikios, chairman of the pensioners’ association of IKA, Greece’s biggest insurance fund for the private sector.

“With the new health care system (EOPPY), even the employees there have no idea how the system work.  Just a couple of days ago, a pensioner was asked to pay 10 euro to an IKA physician in order to receive his prescription medication, worth 6 euro. Why? Because the pensioner wasn’t in the patients’ list of the doctor [a patient needs to wait 30 to 45 days for a doctor appointment at the IKA]. IKA has stopped to do microbiological and blood tests, and we have to pay 15-25% participation. We want free health care and medicines, ” said Aristides Frangoulidis, chairman of the pensioers’ association of OAEE Thessaloniki.  (; pictures

My aunt was telling me recently that their pension fund has no specialized doctor for my uncle’s chronic disease in a radius of several kilometers. So they have to seek a specialist from another insurance fund. They were asked to pay 50 euro just to receive the paper with the prescription medicine. Sure. My uncle was a sailor for 40 years, now his pension is down by 400 euro, 13th and 14th pensions have been eliminated anyway since two years. Go figure…

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