Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

Health Insurance

Health Insurance

Now I’m back, I can start to fill you in on the great adventure which was a day in Rhodes. The reason for the trip was to have our annual health checks under the private insurance policy we have. Mine is a full policy. As I no longer work for someone else, I need to have health insurance – for my own peace of mind rather than for a requirement of law or residency (at the moment). I’ve had it for nearly four years now, and as an add-on, I have these annual check-ups. Neil, in the state system generally, also opted to buy this add-on as its own policy. I can’t remember the exact cost, around €200.00 each, I think. We have it with Axa, but there are other insurance companies around who you can approach.

Leaving Symi for a day trip in April

Leaving Symi for a day trip in April

You’ll be thinking, ‘that sounds expensive’, but let me explain. Before having this arrangement, we used to go to Rhodes each spring for a general check-up with private doctors that we paid for as we went along. One of the many good things about living in Greece is the abundance of private doctors and the way you can phone for an appointment and see a specialist that day if necessary, or very soon after. Yes, you have to pay, but a consolation is usually only around €50.00, with many doctors also taking IKA patients (public health insurance if you like) on certain days. We used to see three different doctors in three different places, and one of the would usually call for blood tests, which we would need to get done anyway. The last time I went down this ‘see to it yourself’ route, I would pay roughly €180 for the specialists and then the blood tests would be around €120. When I was also on IKA, the state would pay something like 75% of the costs for the tests, but not the consultations.

Euromedica

Euromedica

So, what used to cost me around €300 for annual peace of mind and, more importantly, early diagnosis of anything I was unaware of, now costs me €200.00, so that’s a good starting place. And then there’s the convenience. Our agent makes the arrangements, she even picks us up from the boat, as she did last Friday, welcomes us like family and drives us to Euromedica, the private hospital on Rhodes. We arrived there on Friday at 9.35 and were seen to and dealt with by 10.54. We were back in Mandraki by 11.10 with the rest of the day ‘at leisure’ until the boat at 19:00. Back at the hospital, our ‘day’ of check-ups included having our blood taken and tested for everything from PSA to sugar levels, a chest X-ray and a check from a cardiologist, wired to the machines, a chat, a physical and so on. The cardio results are done there and then (all fine, clear and healthy for us both), and the x-ray and blood results come back next week. Our agent will collect them for us, or I can go and get them, and if anything shows up, the doctor will ask to see us. Or, we can take our results to the local general practitioner and have them interpreted there.

Outside Euromedica waiting for the taxi the receptionist arranged for us. You can't quite see, but there were two horses in the field opposite.

Outside Euromedica waiting for the taxi the receptionist arranged for us. You can’t quite see, but there were two horses in the field opposite.

There’s a lot of uncertainty around this harmful Brexit mess and where us non-Greek immigrants will stand if the yUK kills off its future by leaving the EU. Private medical cover is one of the things you will need to have, and show to have, if you are not in the IKA or another state system. If you think you will need private health cover, my advice would be to start it now. The older the client, the more the insurance will cost, and some things are not covered for the first one, two or three years until full coverage kicks in (things like undetectable hereditary diseases and knee replacements), but after that, full cover is in place. There is a range of cover-options, so if it gets too costly you can opt for less of a package, but of course, that means less cover. I started mine off aged 53, and it came in at around €90.00 per month. That was about the same as Symi Dream used to pay each month for my IKA. I also went for the full cover, so now I have everything covered from being airlifted off the island and taken to Athens, Crete or wherever (hopefully that won’t ever be necessary), a private double room at a private hospital with Neil housed and paid to give me pastoral care, or I can have private nurses on top of the medical nurses already covered), and I can choose where I have any work or care seen to. If I opt for state hospitals, I pay no excess. I’m also covered for travel insurance medically, and if I want, I can have treatment in just about any country in the world, though I would have to pay 10% or 20% of that bill.

Anyway… People often ask about health cover, and as it was the purpose of our trip last week, I thought I’d mention it here. If you want to look into it and find out if you are eligible (not everyone is, it depends on existing conditions which is why I say get in early) then I suggest you search around for your local companies. I, as I said, use AXA.

Bang on time

Bang on time

That’s the Friday morning seen to. I’ll tell you more about the other, more exciting adventures of the trip tomorrow.