If you’re travelling to Greece (including the Greek islands) this summer, you’re in for a wonderful experience, with azure waters, colourful harbours and endlessly blue skies setting off sun-bleached white houses. Can’t decide which island to go for to experience delicious cuisine and a warm local welcome? Go island-hopping and take in a few on the same trip!
To have the idyllic, hassle-free experience you’ve been looking forward to for ages, it’s worth thinking about a few health precautions before you travel. Think about insect repellent and getting the right sun factor, for example. You may also want to pack a first aid kit.
But it’s also worth being prepared for things which can go more seriously wrong, from accidents to sudden illnesses. While such occurrences are rare, it’s worth knowing what to do if the worst happens; you shouldn’t just expect to stroll into a hospital and receive free care, as you would in the UK.
Neither should you expect your travel insurance to cover every eventuality. One TV programme, What Happens in Kavos, showed just what can happen in Greece when you need urgent treatment and are not covered by insurance – many young holidaymaking Brits were left with no option but to pay a medical bill running into hundreds of pounds.
While emergency public ambulances to state hospitals run free of charge, not much else may be, so don’t let the same thing happen to you and ruin the holiday you’ve worked so hard for.
Apply in good time for your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which will give you access to state-offered healthcare, either free of charge or at a reduced cost, for as long as you’re on holiday.
You can even use your European health card for pre-existing medical conditions like asthma and diabetes, and standard maternity care, although not if you’ve travelled to Greece for the specific purpose of giving birth.
Even if you’re asked to pay for treatment upfront, the card will help save time and extra stress when it comes to claiming it back.
Some travel insurance policies will refuse to pay out for costs that would have been covered by a Euro health card. And, if you’ve used it, you may find the excess, of up to £100, is waived.
In an emergency
If you find yourself in need of emergency medical treatment while in Greece, dial 112. If you need an ambulance, the number to call is 166. If you need the police service it’s 100.
Make sure the medic treating you has a contract with EOPYY, the Greek National Organisation for Healthcare Services Provision.
You can also download the free app explaining how to use the EHIC in various EU countries. It will give you all the information you need to know.
But, most importantly, don’t jet off for your week or two in the Greek sunshine without your EHIC.