Background: The Greek health care system is financed by the state budget, social insurance contributions and private payments. The economic adjustment program that is currently being implemented considers interventions in the health sector of core importance.
Objective: The aim of the present study was to record the experiences of the Greek patient population, identifying the issues encountered by patients using public health services and assessing whether these have worsened compared to the previous year.
Materials and Methods: 403 patients answered by a telephone interview in 34 questions about the useless of public health system. Statistical significance (p value) was set at 0.05 and data analysis was performed using the SPSS statistical package (version 13.0).
Results: 75% of patients referred that they used public health services and 25% used the private sector. The most serious were the delays in scheduling an appointment with a contracted physician (73%) and high phone call costs (61%) when contacting to schedule an appointment. This delay was associated with fewer doctors than patients’ needs (53%), long waiting times (52%), and increased effort to access the doctor’s waiting room as early as possible to be the first in line (39%). Even though drugs have become cheaper due to significant price reductions, interestingly, two out of three patients stated that this year they paid more money for their medication, attributing this to the increase in co-payments (41%), more expensive drugs (37%) and more expensive laboratory tests (32%). 91% of patients do not interfere with the therapeutic regimen proposed by the doctor.
Conclusions: Greek patients can really make a difference in the quality of care they receive if they get the empowerment they need despite the economy crisis.
Key-words: Economic crisis, health system reform, policy response, private sector, public health system