Cyprus is in the transitional period of introducing a new, integrated National Health System offering universal coverage (the first phase of implementation began on 1st June 2019). The new system is financed by state revenues and contributions levied through wages, incomes and pensions. Beneficiaries of the new system are all Cypriot and European citizens, third country nationals with permanent residence status (or having acquired the right of equal treatment as defined by the national legislation), their dependent family members as well as refugees and persons under subsidiary protection. The income criteria of the previous system as well as other prerequisites granting access to the public system have been abolished. Each beneficiary is now entitled to choose his or her personal doctor. The new system provides coverage to all beneficiaries, including screening and treatment. Thus, for the first time in Cyprus, migrants will have the same healthcare coverage as all Cypriot and European citizens, reducing or even eliminating the disadvantages of the previous state of dependency on private insurance.
In principle, the successful implementation and efficient operation of the new system is expected to reduce overall out-of-pocket payments, which are currently the highest in the EU, bringing them closer to the EU average. This is particularly important for low-income households and especially third country nationals as it can significantly reduce unmet health needs caused by financial barriers under the old regime and limit the risk of catastrophic health-related expenditures. Therefore, all are entitled to free health services related to the COVID-19 pandemic (testing, treatment etc). This also applies to undocumented migrants living in Cyprus who under Law are entitled to health care and treatment in cases of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. All diagnostic and therapeutic services provided for COVID-19 patients within the new health care system are provided free of charge.
Following a decision by the Minister of Health, patients who cannot be served by the public hospitals due to the recent closure of several departments and clinics as a result of the SARS-CoV-2, can be referred to the private sector. The full cost of the services provided to these patients will be covered by the MoH. There is no other financial burden associated with SARS-COV-2, except in cases where patients on their own initiative visit a private laboratory for SARS-CoV-2 testing for a fee ranging between €100 to €150.
Update 18th April 2020
A ministerial decision in force from 15th April, determined that the charge for the molecular test for coronavirus cannot be higher than €110. This was due to the increase in private laboratories that were given approval to conduct the test for coronavirus, and, in some cases, some laboratories charging very high prices for citizens who took the test on their own initiative.
Update 3rd May
Despite press reports of a three-month postponement of the second phase of the new health system, the Health Insurance Organization οn April 30th announced its decision to recommend the Minister of Health proceed with implementation (scheduled on June 1st 2020), with the inclusion of hospital care. The implementation of the second phase will provide for an increase in citizen contributions, which had been “frozen” in March due to the pandemic.