The health care system in Cyprus is a mixed public-private system. Public health care is highly centralised and organised in two tiers:
Primary care is delivered in both urban and rural areas through a network of 38 health centres, sub-centres and dispensaries of various levels based on location and size of population served. 30 of these are rural and scattered all over the island, 8 are urban and located in the Nicosia District.
Ambulatory care services are also delivered by the outpatient departments of 5 district and 2 specialised hospitals.
Private health care services are growing in Cyprus through a network of providers, mainly concentrated in the urban areas. The private sector is comprised of 134 facilities including for-profit hospitals, polyclinics, clinics, diagnostic centres and independent practices. Most of the 1704 doctors working in the private sector provide mainly primary and secondary health services either in solo or group practice facilities.
Anyone working in Cyprus, regardless of nationality or residency, must register for social insurance with the District Labour Office. The District Labour Office will in turn issue a medical card.
In the past, two kinds of medical cards were issued dependent on income criteria: class A and class B.
As from 1st August 2013 new regulations came into force regarding the provision of healthcare in public hospitals. The new regulations include new requirements/criteria for the acquisition of the medical card, the abolition of class “B” beneficiaries, the revision of income criteria, the introduction of new charges for pharmaceuticals and laboratory tests as well as an increase in fees paid for services offered by the governmental medical institutions.
Payment for drugs and laboratory tests are made with the use of "health stamps" that have to be purchased in advance and will be affixed to drugs prescriptions and laboratory tests forms. Health stamps are available at public hospitals and post offices.
Non beneficiaries (non-medical card holders) can still use the services of public hospitals by paying €15.00 for visiting a General Practitioner and the amount of € 30.00 for a visit to a Specialist. For any other service provided one has to pay the prescribed fees as laid down by regulation.
The Accident and Emergency Departments of public hospitals remain available to everybody. Patients who visit the Accident and Emergency Department pay the sum of € 10.00, regardless of the services they will receive. Some vulnerable categories of citizens are excluded from the above fee, such as public assistance recipients, soldiers, handicapped, residents of specific institutions etc. For claiming exemption from the above fee the medical card has to be presented
European Union nationals who paid social insurance in their home countries for a certain minimum period will be given free health access, but this will only be for a limited period of time.
Foreign nationals who intend to visit Cyprus, either on a short or long-term basis, may not qualify for social healthcare insurance. Therefore, it is advised that visitors avail of private health insurance during their stay in Cyprus. There are many benefits to having private health insurance. For example, it offers faster health services due to the wider selection of healthcare personnel and facilities at your disposal; unlike public health insurance where the waiting lists are long.