Unable to Afford Cost, Many Greeks Skip Doctors, Treatment

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari, FILE)

ATHENS – The lingering effects of Greece’s economic crisis, which will enter an eighth year later in 2018, are so bad that some 30 percent of people who fell ill in 2016 did not see a doctor and 35.8 percent didn’t seek treatment because they didn’t have the money.

That was the finding of a nationwide survey, based on a sample of 2,000 adults, carried out in January 2017 by the National School of Public Health in Athens but only now made available a year later with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cutting back on healthcare, reneging on yet another promise.

The study showed that the main reason Greeks consulted a health professional in 2016 was because they were experiencing a symptom or pain, with 47.4 percent giving that as a reason.
In 2006 only 21 percent gave that as a main reason as most people visited doctors to receive medical prescriptions or routine checkups.

Meanwhile, 26.4 percent of Greeks who needed healthcare in 2016 received it for free, compared to 52.6 percent in 2006.

Greeks’ naturally rebellious nature comes into play even with doctors with a survey finding 39.4 percent of patients with chronic problems won’t pay attention to orders how to better their lifestyle.

The National School of Public Health said earlier in a report that 75 percent have had a general physical exam in the last year and 12.7 percent more in the past two years and that only 1.9 percent have never gone to the doctor.

However, almost 10 percent of people older than 40 had never had their cholesterol levels tested, and 20.6 percent of respondents over 50 said they rarely if ever had their blood pressure check and only 30.8 percent had had a colonoscopy, Kathimerini said.
Given a recommended diet, 12.3 percent rarely comply, 14.7 percent comply sometimes and 20.8 percent most of the time.

Bad news for the Health Ministry was the finding that while 33 percent said it was the best institution for raising public awareness about prevention, compared to only 7.9 percent for pharmacists, the ministry came last in terms of who citizens trust most to dispense public information.