Social insurance is compulsory and all citizens are protected. There are three systems: the system of social insurance for the protection of employees, the system of social welfare which provides care for people in need, and the national health system which covers all persons resident in Greek territory.
From the administrative standpoint, the social insurance system is coordinated and supervised mainly by the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, and the health and welfare systems are coordinated by the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity.
The social insurance system seeks to cover the risks faced by employees by granting benefits and services which make up for reduction or loss of income from employment. The system encompasses main and supplementary public insurance and functions through autonomous insurance bodies.
The general body for the social insurance of employed persons is the Social Insurance Institute (IKA).
Persons with their own business and professionals are insured by the Self-Employed Professionals’ Insurance Organisation (Οργανισμός Ασφάλισης Ελευθέρων Επαγγελματιών (Ο.Α.Ε.Ε)).
The Agricultural Insurance Organisation (OGA) (Οργανισμός Γεωργικών Ασφαλίσεων (ΟΓΑ)) provides insurance cover for the entire farming population.
Civil servants and employees of public bodies are covered by the State and separate insurance bodies.
The Social Insurance Institute (IKA) is the largest insurance body in Greece and covers more than half the population. It provides health care for 5,600,000 insured persons, including family members, and pays pensions to 845,000 pensioners.
It provides benefits of two types: benefits in kind and cash benefits.
Insurance by IKA is compulsory and starts from the first day of employment.
IKA obtains its income from the contributions of employees and employers and from government funding.
As soon as you start work as an employee in any kind of dependent paid work (other than in a job for which there is affiliation to another main insurance fund), your employer will get in touch with IKA and ask for the necessary formalities for your insurance to be attended to within three days.
The electronically stored insurance history is charted in the ‘Abstract of the Individual Insurance Account’, which is issued for each insured person every calendar quarter and sent by letter to the insured person's employer, who is obliged to pass the abstract on to the insured person. The insured person should keep the abstracts until retirement. Each directly insured person is also issued with and keeps a health booklet, the validity of which is renewed every year for the insured person himself and his family members. Visits to doctors and medical examinations are recorded in the booklet.
Social insurance also includes insurance against unemployment by the Manpower Employment Organisation, entitlement to housing benefits and rent allowances provided by the Workers' Housing Organisation and entitlement to the social tourism, theatre visit benefits and so on, provided by the Workers' Foundation.
Text last edited on: 08/2010
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