Healthcare in Cyprus
Cyprus was ranked as one of the healthiest countries in the Mediterranean by the World Health Organisation and offered its people a top class health service. The system was free or very cheap for those people who contributed to social security, their families, retirees and emergency patients.
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.
Affects of the Bailout
However since the nation’s financial collapse the Cypriot government has had to take action to reduce costs. As part of its agreement with its troika creditors, Cyprus has passed through new legislation that has increased the fees at public hospitals. The bill will also require those wanting free healthcare to provide a tax form which proves they have made three years worth of social insurance contributions.
Passing the bill was a condition set by the troika to release the first instalment of the bailout funds. As the effects of the financial crisis take root we can expect the Cypriot health service to be one of the victims of cost cutting. It remains to be seen whether on not the nation’s crisis could prove to be as bad as that found in Greece, where even basic medical supplies are in short thrift.
Cypriot Doctors typically charge around €15 to €20 for a consultation, however this will probably rise in the near future, and the cost of most treatment is around half that in northern European countries (again this is likely to change). Almost all brands of medicines are available in Cyprus and pharmacists are highly qualified (and usually speak English). They can provide medical advice and treatment for minor ailments. Local newspapers list chemists’ that are open during the night or at weekends and holidays, along with the names and numbers of doctors who are on call out of hours.
The Cyprus social insurance scheme is compulsory for all those working in Cyprus. It provides pensions and benefits in all areas of social security and is financed by contributions from employees, employers and the state.
Currently, social insurance contributions are above 16% of earnings but due to the crisis this could potentially rise by a fairly large margin. If you contribute to Cypriot social insurance, you and your family are entitled to free or subsidised medical and dental treatment. Anyone who has paid regular social security contributions in another EU country for two full years prior to coming to Cyprus is entitled to similar cover for a limited period, and EU pensioners are entitled to free treatment.
If you qualify for Cyprus social insurance benefits, you must obtain a health card. There are two cards, which are allocated according to your means, as follows:
Medical Card A – This is issued to individuals without dependants and an annual income of under €15,377, couples with an annual income of under €30,754 (increased by €1,708 for each dependent child), and members of families with four or more children (irrespective of income). It entitles the holder to free healthcare.
Medical Card B – This is issued to individuals without dependents and an annual income of between €15,377 and €20,503, and to members of families with up to three children and an annual income of between €30,754 and €37,589. It entitles the holder to half-price healthcare.
If you earn above these amounts, you must pay around €12 for a consultation with a doctor and around €85 per day for in-patient hospital care.
The number to call in case of an emergency is 199, if you need to contact English speaking operators in an emergency then call 112.