Saturday, April 28, 2012

Medical insurance in Cyprus

Anyone stumbling on my post, a week ago, about our upcoming immigration appointment might be vaguely wondering what we did about the requirement for full medical insurance.

Indeed, depending on your viewpoint, you might be wondering why we do not already have full medical insurance in Cyprus, or - at the other extreme - why, as British citizens, we need anything at all other than the European health card.

To answer the second part: we moved here before Britain was in the EU, and before the EHIC was invented. And although, due to the nature of Richard's work here, we are still entitled to free health care under the NHS while in the UK, we have been here far too long to qualify for a European health card.

When we first moved here, we were advised to have insurance with a company whom our colleagues at the time used and recommended. It seemed reasonable value, the excess (ie the part we agreed to pay for any medical expense) was fifty pounds sterling per incident, and those who used the company had been pleased with the speed of pay-outs when needed.

However, despite the fact that we never claimed anything at all - I think in our first couple of years we had, perhaps, two doctor visits, for which we simply paid the standard fifteen Cyprus pounds - the premiums started going up significantly. At the end of 1999, Daniel fractured his wrist and we thought that, finally, we might get something back from our medical insurance. But despite three visits to the orthopedic surgeon, a plaster cast and two x-rays the entire cost did not reach our excess.

So, after much research and discussion with local friends, we spoke to our household insurance broker who put us in touch with his recommended medical insurance guy. He came to our house and gave us a quotation for several possible options. Taking everything into account, he suggested we take out just major medical coverage - so that it would kick in if we needed to stay in hospital, but not for any out-patient or regular doctor visits. It was much better value, and so we opted for that, with an excess of 200 Cyprus pounds.

Ten or more years later, the premiums reduced as our sons left home, but then went gone up as we got older.  And we still haven't made any claims. I don't recall the last time either of us visited a doctor, let alone anything more serious.

But for Immigration now, we are required to have not just major medical coverage, but out-patient coverage too. This is new - it wasn't a requirement at all when we first moved here. However, looking at the regulations, it seemed that we might be eligible for the Cyprus 'pink medical card' which would entitle us to free health care.

So on Thursday, we went to the Old Hospital, not far from where we live, as instructed by one of the relevant websites.  The Old Hospital is busy, teeming with activity, and we had no idea where to go. So we went to a likely looking reception area, and were pointed to a different building.

We went to the other building, queued for a few moments, and spoke to another receptionist. Oh no, we were told. These cards are not done at the Old Hospital any more, but at the government building opposite Carrefour.

We went to the Land Registry office last week, to get copies of our deeds. So we assumed that was the building opposite Carrefour to which they were referring. We went there... and were told that no, it was the building next-door.

So finally we reached our destination. I sat down - my injured foot was beginning to ache by then - and Richard had a long conversation with a receptionist who phoned several people to ask questions.

It seems that we are not, after all, eligible for a pink card. At least, not currently. If we were receiving a UK state pension, then we would be. Alternatively, if we were working here and paying Cyprus social insurance contributions, then we would be. But although we own a house, and are still eligible for NHS treatment, we somehow fall into the category of 'non-active' Europeans, which will not give us free insurance.

Ah well. It was worth trying.

On the way out, Richard had a phone call, and in the course of conversation mentioned what we'd been trying to do. The friend suggested speaking to our friendly car rental man, who also has a business in insurance. We know him, and trust him, and he would get us the best deal.

So Richard went to talk to him, and signed us both up for a year's basic medical insurance, not including any huge expenses but pretty much anything else... and that, apparently, is all that's required for Immigration.

It seems crazy to us that they want proof of out-patient and low-cost coverage, and don't actually need us to have any major medical insurance... but, this is Cyprus!

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

I suppose your poorly foot makes you a 'non-active' European ;-) Hope its better soon.