IKA National Insurance reciprocal health care

This IKA Reciprocal Health Care Information Page is from the Completely Crete Living in Crete Health Section.

Greece’s public health system (IKA) provides free or low cost health care for those who contribute to Greek social security, plus their families and retirees. And under EU law the Greek public health system has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service.


British pensioners in receipt of a state pension and who are entitled to free medical treatment in the United Kingdom can expect a similar entitlement in Crete. For more advice for pensioner entitlement to health care in Crete click here.

The following information and advice comes from the website of EURES The European Job Mobility Portal


Basic information

The Greek national health system is operated by the Social Insurance Institute (I.K.A). You must obtain a health booklet from your local IKA office as soon as you start work. The booklet has to be presented on all visits to a doctor or hospital. The local IKA office will provide a list of doctors who work within the national health system. All medical care is free, but there is a prescription charge equal to 25% of the cost of medicines.

Free emergency treatment is provided for EU visitors / employment seekers, who should bring the appropriate E forms with them.

Public servants, bank employees, traders and some other professionals have other health insurance.

  • The Social Insurance Institute (IKA) is the largest insurance body in Greece and covers more than half the population. It provides health care for 5 550 000 insured persons, including family members, and pays pensions to 845 000 pensioners. It provides cover for insured persons and pensioners throughout their life. The Institute's income comes from contributions of employees and employers and from government funding. Persons with IKA insurance are entitled to benefits in kind - medical, pharmaceutical, hospital and dental care, additional health care and preventive medicine, and to cash benefits in the form of the maternity grant, the pregnancy and confinement allowance, sickness and accident benefits, the death grant and pensions.


All medical examinations carried out by doctors in IKA surgeries and medical centres or by IKA doctors in the home are free of charge for insured people and their family members. General and specific tests in IKA laboratories are also free of charge, as is dental treatment.

A portion of the fee for a visit to a private doctor and of the cost of medicines in case of emergency is reimbursed in accordance with the rates in force.

  • Dental care is free of charge, but only when provided by dental surgeries of IKA, by orthodontic and stomatological centres of IKA or by dentists contracted to IKA in their own surgeries.
  • In emergency persons insured with IKA can go to an IKA Immediate Aid Centre.
  • General and specific tests can be carried out by IKA laboratories or by laboratories contracted to IKA.
  • The cost of prosthetics and major appliances, such as pacemakers, hearing aids, wheelchairs, contact lenses, is covered by IKA on receipt of a medical report from the attending physician.


Treatment in IKA hospitals, public hospitals and private clinics contracted to IKA and in clinics for chronic conditions and handicapped children is provided free of charge. Your IKA doctor, who has to give prior approval, arranges admission to a hospital.

  • IKA hospital care covers all hospitalisation expenses of insured persons and pensioners and their family members.
  • Insurance is compulsory and starts from the first day of employment. Both employers and employees participate in insurance contributions to IKA.
Employers are required to pay their own contributions (employer’s contribution) and the amounts that they deduct from their employees’ wages or salaries (employee’s contribution) to the local IKA office at the end of each month.

Each contribution month relates to the working days of the previous month; i.e. the contributions of January must be paid at the end of February.

  • The amount paid to IKA is a percentage of the gross wage or salary of the employee. Higher earnings and more working days equate to higher benefits.
  • If the employee is to work at his or her employer's home (gardeners, domestic servants, chefs, etc.), the employer must notify the fact to the local IKA office when the employment commences, so that the insurance can begin.
Sickness Insurance
  • Insurance by IKA (Social Insurance Institute) is compulsory and covers employed persons working in Greece or abroad (for employers whose headquarters are in Greece). The insurance also covers persons who are not insured by any other main insurance fund and are working under service lease for a specified period as a primary or secondary employment, and, finally, persons employed on a non-permanent basis. Those persons are insured through their trade union or insurance association.

Apart from the public hospitals, there are private hospitals, and also private doctors. Non-prescription medicines can be obtained from duty and night chemists in each neighbourhood.

Call 166 in a medical emergency or when transport to a hospital is required.

For more details about IKA, click here.

The European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card is an essential step towards the simplification of our various healthcare systems. Introduced in June 2004, the card substantially facilitates access to medical assistance for EU citizens travelling to another Member State. Furthermore, it guarantees a quick and simplified reimbursement of expenses incurred locally or shortly after return to the place of residence. Since 1 January 2006, the European Health Insurance Card is issued and recognised by all concerned countries and replaces the previously used paper forms, such as the well-known E 111.

If you need emergency treatment in Crete at a hospital or dentist show them your EHIC card. Telephone 166 for an ambulance in the event of an emergency.

Click this link for some very useful information on the
European Health Insurance Card
, including how to get one.

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