Three years ago, GESY, a modern and affordable system of medical care appeared in Cyprus.
In this article, we will talk about how it works today and how to start using the service if you have not registered yet.
GESY or The General Healthcare System (GHS) is a comprehensive healthcare system that offers equal access to healthcare services for most of all residents of Cyprus, with the possibility of free choice of healthcare provider from both the private and public sectors.
The Cypriot Health Insurance Organization (HIO) is responsible for implementing, managing and improving the new user-friendly service. It is a legal entity governed by state law.
This medical system was introduced within several steps. In June 2019, the first clients registered on the GESY website had the opportunity to choose from the proposed list and use the free services of a personal doctor, a number of subspecialists, laboratories, and also get access to pharmaceutical products. Since June 1, 2020, a full list of services has been opened, including emergency care, dentistry, patient rehabilitation, and more.
- three years ago, before joining the GESY, the average resident of Cyprus paid 20-60 euros for an appointment with a therapist, but now it is free; they paid about 100 euros for x-rays and ultrasound, and now these services will cost only 6-10 euros;
- a childhood vaccination used to cost 50-100 euros, but now routine vaccinations are absolutely free (you will also receive a reminder message); GESY -approved medicines are now no more than 1 euro per item;
- at the same time, you can change your personal doctor as often as you need.
If you haven't applied to GESY yet, you are either very wasteful or lazy. Today, Cypriot medicine is available to every citizen.
Today GESY covers:
- Medical services of personal doctors.
- Medical services of medical specialists.
- Pharmaceutical products.
- Laboratory research.
- Stationary medical services.
- Medical services in case of accidents and emergencies.
- Ambulance services.
- Health services provided by nurses, midwives, clinical psychologists, clinical nutritionists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
- Preventive dental services (examination, professional cleaning).
- Palliative care and medical rehabilitation.
Who can use the GESY services?
The GESY service can be used by people permanently residing in the territory of Cyprus, and included in one of the following categories:
- citizens of Cyprus;
- EU (EEA) citizens who are employed or have resident status in accordance with the provisions of national law;
- third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA citizens) who have permanent resident status or the right to equal treatment in accordance with the provisions of national law;
- family members of the above persons, in accordance with the provisions of national legislation;
- refugees and persons under state protection.
Thus, people without income (the unemployed, children, students, soldiers, and others) also have equal access to free GESY medical services.
How to access medical services?
The user gets access to medical services after they register in the GESY system and enter the list of clients of the doctor they have previously chosen. At the same time, patients can arrange all this via the Internet, or by visiting a doctor in person. In some cases, you will have to send a letter with copies of documents and a questionnaire to the office of the Health Insurance Organization in Nicosia. The process usually takes no more than three days.
A personal doctor is the first contact person with the GESY system. They are responsible for providing all necessary medical services, as well as for referring patients to more narrow specialists, if necessary. You can change your Personal Doctor every six months.
At their discretion, residents of Cyprus can also choose one time specialist doctor, pharmacy, laboratory, private or public hospital, any other private or public health care provider. It should be noted that many doctors who have joined the GESY have their own circle of specialists who can be recommended, but the client has the right to insist on his choice.
Who contributes money to the GESY system and how much?
GESY is funded by contributions from the residents of Cyprus. Contributions are collected by the social security services, the Tax Department and the Treasury of the Republic through the online contribution payment system.
Private and public sector workers
2,65% (of total income)
Employers (including the government's companies)
2,90% (from the salary of each employee)
4,70% (from salaries of civil servants, self-employed, officials and pensions)
4,00% (of total income)
2,65% (of total income)
Persons receiving any income (interest, rent, dividends, etc.)
2,65% (of total income)
2,65% (of total income)
Many mistakenly believe that in Cyprus people with an income of less than 19.5 thousand euros per year do not pay any taxes. However, residents are required to pay GESY contributions from any income, together with social insurance contributions. This also applies to foreigners earning income in Cyprus. At the same time, self-employed persons pay contributions on their own, and for hired employees, this is done by the employer's accounting department. People with an income of more than 180 thousand euros pay a contribution only from the first 180 thousand euros.
Contributions to the GESY are required to be paid by every working resident of Cyprus, starting from 1 euro of salary.
What are Co-Payments (additional payments) and when do they apply?
Users of the GESY system pay small amounts when receiving services from outpatient specialists, laboratories, pharmacies, nurses, midwives, allied health workers, and emergency departments.
The amounts, by Cypriot standards, are very modest. For example, a patient pays an average of 1 euro for a pharmaceutical product, 1 euro for a laboratory test, 6 euros for a visit to a specialist doctor. It is noted that access to personal doctors (therapists) and inpatient medical care is free.
The annual ceiling for additional payments per person is 150 euros. At the same time, for pensioners, recipients of minimum and low income, as well as for children, the bar has been reduced to 75 euros. Interestingly, the same doctors from the GESY system may well prescribe a drug that is not included in the list of GESY drugs. The patient will pay market value for such a medicine, and the overpayment will not be taken into account in the total amount of additional payments. Try to find out everything in your doctor's office and, if necessary, choose an alternative drug option.
What does GESY cover?
From June 1, 2020, GESY covers all human needs for medical care, including chronic, rare and severe diseases. The system provides lifetime financial protection to all users, even in the event of unexpected and costly medical needs.
How is the quality of the services provided ensured?
When planning GESY, best practices are applied to improve the quality of medical services. These include the introduction of personal physicians, the implementation of guidelines, and the use of a comprehensive system of advanced information technology. Even if the documents of a foreign patient have expired, their personal account on the GESY website continues to work, and is not blocked.
By the way, in August 2022, it was the meeting with the lionfish in the sea that became one of the most frequent reasons for visiting the doctor. Be careful on sandy shores or wear safety shoes to avoid accidentally stepping on poisonous fish hiding in shallow water.
Are medical services covered for people with no income?
Recall that the right to health under the GESY system does not depend on the payment of contributions. Residents with no income (unemployed, children, students, military personnel and others) have equal access to medical services.
Despite all the convincing arguments, there are still quite a few inhabitants of the island who are extremely skeptical about Cypriot medicine in general and the GESY system in particular. The ideal solution is to combine services and analyze the results.
For example, if GESY does not cover children's dental services, then private insurance companies return up to 80% of the cost. At the same time, private companies are not always ready to pay for physiotherapy, a nutritionist and vaccination. It should be remembered that the list of doctors who joined the GESY today is wide and includes specialists with a very rich experience, recognized masters of their craft.
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