Thursday , September 28 2023
Home / News / Society / Social / Greece to scrap free health treatment for tourists from EU, third-countries

Greece to scrap free health treatment for tourists from EU, third-countries

Foreign visitors to Greece will have to immediately pay for their hospitalization or treatment in the country’s health units, Health Minister, Vassilis Kikilias, ordered in a circular issued last week. The measure regards European and third country citizens who are insured.

“Greek taxpayers will no longer pay for the treatment of foreign visitors. Not a single euro of Greek taxpayers will be spent for the services provided by EOPYY to foreigners who are insured,” Kikilias told media on Monday morning.

According to the circular, if the European tourist receives medical care but does not have the EHIC document or does not provide it in time, health unit will cash the cost and provide the patient will all necessary documents so that he can claim the expenses from the insurance company.

According to media reports, tens of millions of euros are lost each year to the country’s public health system for the free medical services provided to tourists in Health Centers and hospitals across the country, especially in popular tourist destinations.

The “black hole” created by the lack of a comprehensive system recording the costs of the care and hospitalization of insured European and third-country nationals in public health structures was immediately identified and addressed by the new leadership of the Ministry of Health.

In particular, and according to a circular sent last Tuesday to Health Governors, it is now mandatory to register and invoice all health services provided to tourists at Health Centers and hospitals.

In addition, all data kept on a monthly basis will be sent by the public authorities to the relevant departments of the Ministry of Health and EOPYY.

The systematic registration essentially initiates the procedure for the immediate collection of the hospitalization by the foreign visitors as long as they are treated and/or hospitalized in EOPYY health units. A process that the turtle has been progressing for the past four years.

According to EOPYY data, at least 1/3 of tourists who need to receive health services in public health facilities in Greece during their holidays do not pay for medical tests or for hospitalization if they need one.

Missing registration of those who are insured in their countries makes also impossible the collection of the funds from the insurance companies of the foreign countries.

At the central level, the Ministry of Health had begun in 2014 to set up a system for recording and clearing up health expenditure through the E125 special forms that provide care to European citizens when traveling abroad, but the outcome was poor.

According to 2014 data, approximately € 50 million annually has been collected from tourists’ hospitalization.

Given one out of three tourists pay for their treatment and hospitalization the loss was estimated at at least 25 million euros annually. Since 2014, however, there has been a steady increase in the number of tourists in Greece, which means an increase in the number of people in need of health services and, of course, of the costs and hospitalizations.

Greece now hosts about 30 million tourists annually and thousands of them visit Health Centers or hospitals during their holidays as they face accidents, injuries and urgent health problems. The public health structures of the islands receive a lot of tourists during the summer months, and health services are often provided in the large hospitals in Attica where the most serious medical incidents will need to be handled.

When the healthcare units do not list medical services, do not invoice them and do not send them to EOPYY for funds collection from the insurance companies abroad. (source: ygeiamou)

PS Angry? Don’t be. The Health Ministry now takes under the magnifying glass also the medical expenses a health unit spends for medication, treatment and hospitalization of uninsured Greeks.

Check Also

Young woman attacked with syringe in Athens suburb

A young woman was attacked by a stranger who stuck a syringe needle in her …


  1. Another money making scheme from the Greek government tourists expect the insurance companies to cover them, the Greek government have no idea what they are doing to tourism or their own people.time to holiday elsewhere

    • Well Sean, better that you holiday in USA, Belgium, UK or Germany – where hospitals turn you over to the police if you do not pay EVERY penny of incurred expenses and provide all documentation. However in neither case is this a “money-making scheme” but mere retrieval and re-payment from yet another malfunctioning EU system.

      That you complain implies you’re a freeloader.

      • Tsigantes, I live in UK and to my certain knowledge welfare is key. If I or anyone else was to see a Child, Woman or man suffering or ill we can call/dial 999 or 111 now. On such call I team of trained paramedics will assist the person no matter of age, creed, or colour will attend as a matter urgency. They will take that person to hospital and preserve life without any police involvement.

        I cannot speak for USA, Belgium or Germany but I can speak for UK. Can you qualify your comment?

        • Clearly he can’t bit stupid to attack the n.h.s who like you said provide care no matter what the circumstances

        • Here in Greece, also Romania where I previously lived, France, Germany and Sweden in earlier years you only had to show your passport to get immediate treatment and they billed the NHS for it.

  2. Meanwhile there is the free medical treatment of migrants also burdening a system reduced 50% by Troika cuts.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      Treatment for migrants and refugees is funded by the UNHCR. It is up to the hospitals to record the cost and forward it to the institutions in charge, I suppose.

  3. When I went to a hospital in Italy with a suspected heart attack the first thing they asked for was my EHIC card before treatment.
    When my husband went to a hospital in Greece we were not asked for any documents although we had both EHIC and insurance.
    Greece is now going to do what other countries have always done . I cannot see any problem with this . When you travel to other countries you should always have a EHIC card or insurance.