New tourism ministry sees market potential

A new tourism ministry has taken over the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and sees medical tourism as having potential. But it comes at a time when public and private hospitals are struggling with how they will be part of, or not, a new health insurance system.

Medical tourism to Cyprus is being used as a way of expanding the tourist season; an idea that was first suggested in 2013 but may only now being implemented after a shake-up in tourism boards.

Public and private hospitals are however struggling with how they will be part of, or not, a new health insurance system.

After a long delay, Cyprus has brought in universal health insurance. Gesy (National Health Scheme) launched in March 2019, so employees, pensioners and other income earners will, by law, have to contribute a percentage of their income to the scheme and that percentage will increase in March 2020.

People previously contributing to a private health scheme, either personally, or via their employer, may no longer be able to afford to pay private health insurance contributions. Although Gesy contributions start March 1, 2019, phase one, out-of-hospital care, will not be available until June 1, 2019, and phase two, in-patient care, will not available until June 1, 2020, meaning that contributors may well want to maintain their private health insurance contributions until the Gesy system is fully operational.

Some groups may have to take out private health insurance or pay for all their healthcare costs themselves. They include expats living (but not earning) in Cyprus, non-EU foreign students and British retirees. The latter group currently benefits from being able to use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Cyprus that allows them to obtain essential medical treatment in government hospitals. Although the EU and UK have provisionally agreed that British citizens already living in Cyprus will be able to retain their EHIC post Brexit, much is still uncertain.

For a more detailed analysis of the medical travel sector in and out of Cyprus, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.