Learn about the Healthcare & Insurance Options for Expats in Cyprus
Famous as the ‘Jewel of the Mediterranean,’ Cyprus is the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient goddess of love. Known for its beautiful beaches and sunny locations, it homes the world-renowned Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. Plus, Cyprus is also famous for its Haloumi cheese that’s made from goat’s milk. Here’s what you need to know about the Cyprus healthcare system and insurance options for expats.
One of the safest countries in the world, Cyprus, hogged the headlines during the 2012 financial crisis. The economy since has recovered, and Cyprus now ranks 33rd in the world in terms of the Quality Life Index. This is also one of the many reasons why expats relocate to the island. Another major factor behind visitors and expats going to Cyprus is the availability of cheap and effective healthcare facilities in the island nation. Expats are also advised to buy international health insurance before moving to the country to avoid any unplanned health expenses later on. The CDC has more information about vaccinations to get before traveling to Cyprus.
Overview of Healthcare
Healthcare in Cyprus is of a very high standard, yet generally inexpensive. All major cities have government and private hospitals for their citizens. The Medical and Public Health Services Department of the nation strictly monitors food and water safety. Foreign visitors do not need to undergo vaccinations. It is because of the prevalence of infectious diseases, or the outbreak of an epidemic is next to non-existent.
While public healthcare is mostly available free of cost, private healthcare is inexpensive as compared to the western and high-quality medical care possible in developed nations. Though all major towns and cities of Cyprus have both state-funded and private medical care facilities, those available in the Greek south are considered better than the Turkish north.
How the Cyprus Healthcare System Works for Expats?
All EU expats who hold an S1 form of National Health Service in their home country can also qualify for Cyprus National Health. To qualify, expats need to register themselves as residents of Cyprus. Furthermore, expats must be an employee paying for social insurance to be eligible for Cyprus Health Services. Those who do not pay tax or social insurance do not qualify for a medical card.
In such a case, it makes complete sense for expats to opt for insurance policies that will take care of their medical costs in case of an emergency. It is common to see citizens of the EU, including expats, relocate to Cyprus for its affordable and high-standard healthcare system.
Public Healthcare in Cyprus
The Ministry of Health administers the public healthcare system in Cyprus. Under it, all working residents have access to social insurance. The public healthcare sector provides services, such as dental, mental, pharmaceutical, and general health.
In Cyprus, the public sector gets its funding through taxes, payroll, and employer contributions. Three categories will decide if a patient will receive free treatment or not. This division is based on income, the total number of children, and a history of chronic illnesses. All EU citizens can use their EHIC in Cyprus for free treatment in state hospitals and clinics.
A few issues plague the public sector, such as long waiting times, poor coordination between sectors, and wastage of resources. Corruption, though not widely prevalent, is also a cause for concern.
Private Healthcare in Cyprus
Though the public healthcare system in Cyprus caters to more than 80% of its citizens, most citizens, especially expats, opt for treatment at private healthcare centers. The perks are access to a variety of options and facilities and shorter wait times.
The private sector offers two main private health insurance options — international private medical cover and local private medical insurance. The local coverage may have cheaper premiums, but it has a limited medical cover.
At most medical centers, patients will have to pay up-front for their treatment. Patients can reimburse their expenses within a month. We advise expats and visitors to keep all bills and paperwork so that they can be presented at the time of reimbursement. It is prudent to check your insurance policy for what is included under the cover.
Pharmacies and Emergency Services in Cyprus
There is no shortage of pharmacies in Cyprus, especially in the regions of Paphos, Larnaca, and Limassol. The pharmacies operate from 9 in the morning till between 6 and 7 in the evening and most shut down for 3 hours in the noon. Some pharmacies also stay closed in the middle of the week. Prescribing minor and over-the-counter drugs does not cost anything, but one for major medications may need a doctor’s visit.
In case of a medical emergency, you can dial 199. There is a minimum charge for accident and emergency cases that are paid at the hospital upon arrival. EU and Cypriot pensioners are exempt from this cost. Most private hospitals have their ambulances that require an additional charge.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats in Cyprus
One of the significant benefits of opting for private health insurance is the availability of faster health services. It is because patients get to choose from a wide range of medical personnel and facilities. In the case of public health insurance, the waiting lists are very long.
Expats in Cyprus should consider buying a global private international health insurance plan that will take care of their medical costs. There are a lot of global insurance companies that offer an extensive range of plans to choose from. Some of the best companies you can consider are Allianz International and Cigna Global.