The 2019 introduction of the new Cyprus healthcare system GeSY is impacting medical services and treatment in the Mediterranean. While the country already had a high quality of medical service options for citizens, residents, and medical tourists, Cyprus is ensuring medical and pharmaceutical expenses remain affordable for everyone.
This week, Property Experts Cyprus introduces the new Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY and explains the costs, coverage, and benefits of this new healthcare system in Cyprus. Find out if you qualify for GeSY and if traveling or relocating to Cyprus is the right move for your health.
What is GeSY?
GeSY, also known in English as the General Healthcare System (GHS), is the new system for healthcare services in Cyprus. Under the new Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY, patients can register with their preferred doctor and then have the majority or even all of their medical expenses covered.
The process is fairly straightforward for permanent residents of Cyprus: simply create an account and sign up online or with a printed application, bring supporting documentation, and when approved, become eligible to begin receiving healthcare at medical facilities of your choice.
With the full-coverage Cyprus healthcare system, GeSY will make healthcare affordable and accessible while extending its reach to both the public and private sectors of participating medical institutions found on the island.
The GeSY Timeline
In 2001, legislation passed to establish the Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY after 20 years of discussion. The process of implementing a new healthcare system was broken into two phases.
The first phase started in March 2019, leading into Phase Two in June 2020. Through the first phase, personal physicians were entitled to enroll up to 2,500 of their patients into the system. Doctors who qualified were outpatient physicians for adults and children, including specialists. Provisions were also made for pharmacies and laboratories.
The second and final phase is set to roll out in June 2020, making the Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY fully operational in July 2020, with coverage including inpatient care and higher mandatory program fees for residents. However, with the recent global complications of the coronavirus pandemic, the board managing the GeSY program is still in debate about whether it would be better to push back the final phase until September in order to ease the strain on cash reserves.
When the final phase is released, the Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY will be in full swing. This includes:
- inpatient care
- emergency and ambulance
- allied health professionals
- dental care, including preventive
- palliative care and rehabilitation
Now, let’s take a look at the organizational structure.
This full-coverage healthcare program is under the guidance of the Health Insurance Organization (HIO) of Cyprus.
As a public legal entity, HIO aims to implement the new GeSY program and undertakes the responsibility for monitoring and managing the healthcare system in Cyprus to solve several healthcare and health insurance problems Cypriots have faced in the last few years.
One of the largest pushes for GeSY is to provide equal access to healthcare services in Cyprus and to specialists in the larger EU when Cypriot medical institutions cannot care for special cases. This also means that Cyprus residents can apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Beyond equal access, the HIO aims to lower the high%age of health expenditures paid out-of-pocket and ease the burden on public institutions with long waitlists.
Through the program, cooperation can occur between all the medical institutions and caregivers as well as limit the waste of infrastructure or resources. Data and transparency can also be better established to facilitate a higher quality of care.
HIO is currently governed by 13 board members who represent the interests and concerns of the government, employers, employees, self-employed, and patients to reverse the difficulties of the past to access necessary healthcare services.
Starting in March 2019, the Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY began collecting revenue to fund the program. As the program is independent of financial status and all citizens are eligible for the program, Cyprus mandated citizens, both employees and employers, contribute a small amount of monthly income to the operation.
March 2020 saw the rates rise to the approved standard for the complete installation of the program. Currently, employees are expected to pay 2.65%, employers 2.9%, income, dividends, and interests 2.65%, retired 2.65%, self-employed 4%, and state 4.7%. Due to the recent impact of the coronavirus, the rates have been waived to Phase One rates until July 2020. Phase Two medical services are still available for patient care.
Those under the program will pay no charge when visiting their general practitioner unless it exceeds the annual allowance. Depending on age, 3-10 yearly visits will be fully covered and after that, each visit only requires 15 Euros. Low-income earners and their children, as well as chronic patients, have special rules.
Most pharmaceutical products or laboratory examination services cost as little as 1 Euro and go up to only 10 Euros, with many healthcare products such as vaccination services being covered through GHS and GeSY.
Caps have been set in place for those who are considered low-income earners so that out-of-pocket health expenses remain manageable. Caps have also been set on how much total can be taken from dividends and interests of any one individual to limit the mandatory program fees from becoming an unequal financial burden.
Are you entitled to GeSY?
The great news is that the Cyprus healthcare system GeSY extends to all citizens who are permanent residents in Cyprus.
Cypriot citizens as well as European and non-EU citizens who hold permanent resident status qualify for the full coverage healthcare program. This extends to members of the families as long as they have residency status themselves, even if they do not work. 18% of the population of Cyprus is made up of expats and their families, all of whom qualify for the program.
It also covers those that do not have work or an income in which to pay into the system. Refugees and protected individuals can also enroll.
Through the program, all residents can find access to healthcare professionals of their choice and high-quality care that they have come to expect from leading Cyprus medical institutions, both private and public.
Top 10 Benefits of Cyprus Healthcare System GeSY
There are many benefits to the new healthcare program in Cyprus. These are the 10 essential advantages of the Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY. The first two we have elaborated on in more detail below.
- Retain private insurance
- Select the doctor and facilities of your choice
- Reduced waiting times
- Coverage out of Cyprus for medical services not available in the country
- Be included regardless of sudden, chronic, or rare health conditions
- Access better treatment with little to no costs
- Keep health coverage even as a low-income earner
- Be protected from overly high mandatory program rates on income, dividends, and interests with caps
- Encourage insurance policymakers to remain competitive and inclusive in the private sector
- Improve medical data collection and transparency that can continue to impact the high-quality medical services found in Cyprus institutions
1. Retain Private Insurance
Individuals may still choose to retain their private health insurance company, but may see changes to their rates as these companies seek to compete with the new GeSY program. For example, insurance providers may decide on lower rates or extended coverage into areas that GeSY might not cover.
2. Doctor and Facilities of Your Choice
Moreover, individuals will have more access to public and private institutions without long waitlists. Currently, there are six public hospitals and eighty private hospitals that account for more than 2500 patient beds, 2250 doctors and specialists, and 720 dental care providers. 6% of the national GNP, worth over 700 million Euros, is spent on the health and promotion of Cyprus as a healthcare destination yearly.
In February 2020, nine private hospitals officially negotiated with the HIO to join GeSY with another 10 unofficially conducting meetings. This followed the news in January of the same year that the Cypriot government allocated 70 million Euros for the inclusion of private hospitals into the GeSY program.
With the new program, individuals can select the personal doctor that they feel most comfortable with. These personal doctors can make referrals to other specialists so that their patients can get coverage for those visitations, testing, and treatments through GeSY. The referral system is one of the unique aspects of the GeSY program. Patients can seek specialists on their own, but then they need private health insurance contracts or to pay out-of-pocket.
For those wishing to travel to Cyprus for specialty medical treatment for orthopedic concerns, GeSY will not cover the treatment. However, as more is invested in the medical industry, the quality of services and institutions will continue to excel. Already, Cyprus is 26th in the world for access to quality healthcare.
Another option is to become a resident of Cyprus through residency by investment program and then qualify for GeSY if you are looking for long-term medical care. Over 20,000 expat residents of Cyprus are over the age of 60 and choose to call the island home because of its excellent medical services as well as a lifestyle that affords Cypriots a life expectancy of 82.2 years of age, among the highest in the EU.
Accessible Healthcare for Everyone
All of the measures of the Cyprus healthcare system GeSY will help provide an accessible, but competitive medical industry throughout both the public and private sectors. High quality of services will attract more patients and yield higher income through the program. Also, there will be a diminished burden on secondary and tertiary care providers, such as specialists, as a referral by a primary care doctor will be needed, allowing those with the greatest need quicker and fairer access to the specialists they require.
Furthermore, the GeSY program is inclusive of every resident, even if they have unexpected, chronic, or even rare conditions. Giving them more affordable options beyond Cyprus if current medical institutions cannot treat them and providing security that their medical costs will be covered despite their liabilities, often the reason private insurance companies will hesitate to take on these cases.
The Cyprus healthcare system of GeSY continues to highlight the importance of healthcare services and their quality to Cypriots. The government and its citizens are working towards new paths of global health initiatives despite being a country already largely in good health. The GeSY program ensures that this will continue and that new residents will be able to also enjoy the Mediterranean life free of stress and health challenges.
Property Experts Cyprus is happy to help set up your appointment with a GeSY healthcare physician and make any arrangements you need during your time in Cyprus. Contact us to find out all the ways we can make this process easier.
Disclaimer: We at Property Experts Cyprus connect you to carefully selected third-party medical providers. We do not offer diagnosis, health advice, and medical treatment ourselves.