The Greek minister for health, Adonis Georgiadis, has come under fire for introducing a new hospital fee from the beginning of the year.
Patients in Greece who earn more than €11,000 per year will now be charged €25 whenever they visit a public hospital.
The measure, which was introduced to find alternative sources of revenue for the Greek health sector, has been met with unusually strong criticism by one of the junior coalition partners, PASOK, according to the country's leading newspaper, Ekathimerini.
The opposition parties SYRIZA and the Democratic Left are now also calling for the €25 charge to be scrapped, despite the government announcing the fee months ago.
Georgiadis on Friday (3 January) called on his critics to come up with their own ideas on how to raise money in the health sector.
“What we are saying is that someone will be charged once every 10 years they need treatment so that hospitals can be able to buy medicines for the poor,” Georgiadis said.
On Tuesday the health minister and PASOK held an official meeting to discuss the hospital fee. Greece’s international creditors do not oppose the charge being scrapped if other revenue-raising measures can be found, such as patients paying a larger contribution for expensive diagnostic tests like CAT and MRI scans.
Greece's healthcare system has been under enormous pressure ever since the global financial crisis began in 2007. In November, Greece's private healthcare clinics threatened to turn away patients insured by the country's main healthcare facility, the National Organisation for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY), because the public body owed them €800 million.
It is estimated that six million people in Greece are uninsured and do not have access to medical care.
The eurozone debt crisis has forced some governments to drastically cut their public health budgets in an effort to contain deficits.
Greece was among the countries taking the toughest measures, but Spain and other countries such as France and the Czech Republic have also taken similar steps.
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