Medical care expenses are by far the highest in the EU

The situation in healthcare is equally bleak. Figures show that Greeks spend a total of 437 million euros a year on this area alone. What one must bear in mind, though, is that this figure is reached simply by adding up spending on medical care and pharmaceutical purchases declared in 2002 tax returns, while the annual per capita allowance is 380 euros. This means that the real picture is very different, especially if one considers how often Greeks do not get a receipt from a visit to the doctor or for minor surgery – and this is not even to mention the money that goes toward greasing medical staff’s palms. ‘Petty’ expenses There are also a plethora of other expenses, such as a variety of medicines or inexpensive pharmaceutical products that are written off either because the receipts haven’t been saved or because their cost is simply added to the petty-cash account. Eurostat data shows that Greeks spend more than any other EU citizens on health-related goods and services – 6.3 percent of GDP. This either means that Greeks fall ill more often than other Europeans, or that the national healthcare system is unable to cover the needs of its patients. Greece’s low quality of healthcare service is only matched by that of the Finns, who nevertheless spend 5.2 percent of GDP on healthcare. Next comes Belgium with 4.7 percent of GDP and Portugal with 4.6 percent.