According to the World Health Organization, Cyprus is one of the healthiest countries in the Mediterranean. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1960, the government has prioritized health and preventative medicine, resulting in high-quality healthcare and life expectancy that is on par with that of other western countries. Many doctors in Cyprus have received training in the UK, and medical tourists from many Middle Eastern countries choose to visit Cyprus for treatment.
Medical and health services are provided through both the public health service and private clinics and hospitals, which operate in conjunction with each other. Public general hospitals and private clinics and hospitals are mainly located in urban areas, but there are health centers in rural areas as well. This network provides medical care for the entire country.
The public health service in Cyprus is financed through social security payments made by those working on the island, including foreign residents. The system provides free or low-cost healthcare to those who contribute to social security, as well as their families and retirees, and emergency treatment to everyone. However, foreign visitors require private health insurance to access the full public health service unless they are willing to pay high medical bills.
EU citizens visiting Cyprus can receive free outpatient or inpatient treatment with a European Health Card (formerly known as E111), which is issued by the health authority in their home country. Note that this only covers essential treatment, not routine treatment. Non-EU visitors must pay for healthcare.
Pensioners from other EU countries are entitled to use the public health system at a considerably reduced cost now that Cyprus has joined the EU. Non-EU pensioners must have private health insurance.
It is important to note that health (and health insurance) is a significant issue for those retiring abroad. Many people are unprepared for old age and possible health problems, and foreigners who are no longer able to care for themselves may be forced to return to their home countries. Cyprus has few state residential nursing homes or hospices for the terminally ill. Although new public buildings and tourist facilities are required to include provisions for the disabled, such as wheelchair access, older buildings and public transportation facilities fall below the average for Western Europe.