It’s advantageous to be insured with a company that will pay large medical bills directly. Most private health insurance policies don’t pay family doctors’ fees or pay for medication that isn’t provided in a hospital, or there’s an ‘excess’ payment that often exceeds the cost of treatment. Most will, however, pay for 100 per cent of specialists’ fees and hospital treatment in the best hospitals.
Generally, the higher the premium, the more choice you have regarding doctors, specialists and hospitals. You should avoid a company that reserves the right to cancel a policy when you reach a certain age, e.g. 65 or 70, or which increases premiums sharply as you get older, as trying to take out a new policy at the age of 65 or older at a reasonable premium is difficult. If you already have private health insurance in another country, you may be able to extend it to cover you in Greece.
Private health insurance is popular among the Greeks and there are numerous national companies offering policies, including Ethniki Asfalistiki (www.ethniki-asfalistiki.gr), Generali (www.generali.gr) and La Vie Assurance (www.iatriko.gr).
Foreign private health insurance companies with policies covering Greece include AXA PPP Healthcare (www.axappphealthcare.com), BUPA International (www.bupa-intl.com), Exeter Friendly Society (www.exeterfriendly.co.uk) and International Health Insurance (www.ihi.com).
Note that almost all hospitals and clinics included under foreign private health insurance schemes are situated in Athens or Thessaloniki.