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Athenians Queue to Get Their Medicine in …Piraeus as Athens Pharmacists Boycott Greece’s Biggest Insurance Fund

Hundreds of distressed Athenians rush to stand line outside the pharmacies of the port city of Piraeus in order to get prescription medicine without having to pay it in advance from their own pockets. Reason for this incredible “population movement” is that the Athens Pharmacists Association continues to boycott the country’s unified insurance fund EOPPY and do not give insured patients prescription medicine on credit,  while the Piraeus Association does not.

Athens Pharmacists demand that EOPPY pays them out all the outstanding debts even though the state started to pay them in installments.

During a heated debate on Thursday, with the chairman of APA threatening to resign, pharmacists in Athens decided to continue their boycott until June 30, 2012 with 491:478 votes.

Piraeus and Thessaloniki Pharmacists Associations cancelled their boycott a week ago. However pharmacists in Thessaloniki threaten to start their mobilization again if the state would not pays them April debts until June 25th.

EOPYY, formed after several social insurance funds were merged last year, had its state funding cut by 500 million euros this year but is also being hurt by a drop in social security contributions, which were due to cover 4.5 billion euros of the 5.5 billion of its total funding. So far, EOPYY has only received 1.5 billion euros. (further reading on pharmacists/EOPPY/Greek patients issue on KTG)

245 euro per month for medicine

” I had to pay 245 euro out of my pocket for prescription medicine for my heart problems and my husbands’ dementia” told me EOPPY-insurer Eleni, 75, yesterday. For today she had planned to wake up at 6 o’ clock in the morning to get the bus and go to insurance branch 10 kilometers away in order to submitt the pharmacy’s receipt and her request for refund. It is the second consequent month, where Eleni has to pay for medicine out of the family’s budget (1,350 euro/month) and wait for refund.

“Last month, I needed to go there twice. Once to get a priority number, once to submit the paper, this time will be the same, I suppose” she said complaining about the long queues, the bureaucracy, the pharmacists and the summer heat that causes her breathing problems.

The old, fragile lady had not idea that she could get her medicine at any pharmacy in Piraeus, a city which is some 10 kilometers away form her home and needs to change two buses to get there. “At least, I would get there once…” she told more to herself than to me.

When will she get the refund? “I don’t know” she answered, ” they told me, they will transfer the amount via bank account”.

“When?” I asked again and her answer is the same  “I don’t know. Maybe end of the month, maybe after two months. They don’t know either.”

Maybe at end of the year, maybe at end of the world….

PS KTG received one or two e-mails by people living outside the big cities also complaining about having to pay for prescription medicines. Any similar experiences?

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  1. Stefania, Italy

    Friends living in north Dodecanese told me the same just last week.