Since the country’s independence from Britain in 1960, the government’s main priorities have been health and preventative medicine. Consequently the quality of healthcare in Cyprus is high and life expectancy statistics compare favourably with those of other western countries. Many doctors are trained in the UK, and people living in many Middle Eastern countries choose to visit Cyprus for medical treatment.
Medical and health services are provided through both the public health service and private clinics and hospitals. Public and private medicine operate alongside one another in Cyprus and complement each other. Public General Hospitals as well as private clinics and hospitals are concentrated in the main urban areas, but there are health centres in rural areas, completing a network that meets the medical needs of the whole country.
Cyprus’ public health service is funded through the social security payments of those who work on the island, whether Cypriots or foreign residents. The system provides free or low cost healthcare for those who contribute to social security, plus their families and retirees, and emergency treatment for everyone. However, the full public health service isn’t available to foreign visitors, who require private health insurance unless they wish to pay high medical bills.
EU citizens who are visiting Cyprus can receive free outpatient or inpatient treatment with a European Health Card (the old E111), which is issued by the health authority in your home country. Note, however, that this covers only essential treatment and not routine treatment. Non-EU visitors must pay for healthcare.
Now that Cyprus has joined the EU, pensioners from other EU countries are entitled to use the public health system at considerably reduced cost. Non-EU pensioners must have private health insurance.
Health (and health insurance) is an important issue for anyone retiring abroad. Many people are ill-prepared for old age and the possibility of health problems, and foreigners who can no longer care for themselves are often forced to return to their home countries. There are few state residential nursing homes in Cyprus, or hospices for the terminally ill. Provision for the disabled, such as wheelchair access, must be incorporated in all new public building and tourist facilties, although provision in older buildings and on public transport is below the average for Western Europe.
This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Cyprus from Survival Books.