Frequently Asked Questions

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From where will I get my medicines?
Beneficiaries have a free choice of outpatient pharmacy (they are able to visit any pharmacy they wish). Some medicines though, due to safety reasons and the need to provide specialised pharmaceutical services as well as to keep a record, can only be dispensed by certain hospital pharmacies.
Which medicines are covered by the GHS?
GHS covers prescribed medicines only.  Which medicines are under prescription and which are not, is determined by a Minister’s of Health Decree and it doesn’t depend on whether pharmacists used to dispense them without a prescription for whatever reason (e.g. there was an older prescription, they are not strictly controlled etc.) prior to the GHS implementation. However, it is understood that medicines involving serious or rare illnesses, whether acute or chronic, will be covered by the GHS.
Medicines covered by GHS are assessed by two scientific committees which take into consideration many factors such as efficiency, safety, alternatives and costs.
Why are OTC medicines not covered by the GHS?
Over the Counter (OTC) medicines are products considered appropriate for use by the wider public without requiring a doctor’s prescription. The main reason these medicines are dispensed over the counter is because their use does not require a doctor’s supervision, are relatively safe and the likelihood of abuse does not exist or is very limited. 
In essence, they are medicines the patient uses for self-medication and only for mild diseases (e.g. the common cold, mild pain etc.). 
A Decree by the Ministry of Health determines which medicines must be prescribed and which can be dispensed over the counter.
 Healthcare Systems do not generally compensate for these products and GHS will not compensate for them either.
Will I or my Doctor have a choice of the pharmaceutical treatment I will take?
The Catalogue of medicinal products issued by HIO is extensive and includes a wide range of products.  Beneficiaries, in consultation with their doctor will participate in the selection of their pharmaceutical treatment. Some of these options may require the beneficiary to pay a small amount of money known as the Contribution II, which is the difference between the price of the medicine, within a given category, that the GHS fully compensates for, and the price of the prescribed medicine.
Will I have to pay the pharmacist in order to get the medicines prescribed by my doctor?
Within the GHS context, all beneficiaries are required to pay a small amount of money (Co-payment)  per medicine they receive in order to avoid the phenomenon of over-prescribing and abuse, which, in addition to economic waste, may expose the patient to unnecessary risk. This amount of money cannot exceed a maximum amount of 150euro (or 75 euro for some beneficiary categories) per beneficiary and per annum, so as not to penalize people who need healthcare services often.  This amount has been determined to one euro (€1 euro) per medicine and per prescription. Even in the event that the doctor prescribes two boxes of the same medicine due to increased dosage, the amount the beneficiary will pay is still 1 euro.
In addition to the Co-payment, beneficiaries may need to pay Contribution II.   Contribution II is the cost difference between the cheapest alternative which is fully reimbursed by the GHS and the prescribed product.
If the beneficiary prefers the more expensive product, he/she will be burdened by the cost difference between the cheapest medicine, within a given category, and the prescribed medicine (Contribution II).
At least one product of every single category included in the Catalogue of Medicinal Products will be fully reimbursed by the GHS so that the beneficiaries will not need to pay Contribution II in the case they choose it.
What are generic medicines?
Generic medicines (Generics) are considered as essentially the same with the original medicine, which after a few years of exclusivity has lost its exclusive production and marketing patent. Generics are subject to the same production and import controls as the original medicines, they are equally safe and effective and are also constantly monitored regarding potential side effects.
Generics are considered therapeutically equivalent and interchangeable with their original products.
The GHS Catalogue will consist of medicines with a marketing authorisation and with an established quality, safety and efficacy profile.
Will the GHS cover original products as well or just generics?
The GHS fully covers some original products in case that the product is under patent or there is no generic product available in the catalogue. 
The use of generics aims at saving resources.  The savings made by the GHS in this manner will be used to compensate for new medicines that are increasingly costly due to the new technologies used in their production as well as to cover increased demands due to the increase of aging population .
How will medicines for chronic conditions be dispensed?
Within the GHS framework, a doctor is able to issue repetitive prescriptions that are valid for 6 months. During this period, beneficiaries can visit the pharmacy to fulfil their prescription without needing to revisit their doctor.
What will happen in case of shortage of medicines?
A shortage in medicines may be due to multiple factors and therefore there is more than one procedure in place for tackling this phenomenon.  If the shortage affects the entire market, HIO will take all necessary measures to ensure that no disturbances in the patients’ access to the appropriate treatment will exist and to avoid any additional financial burden for the patients.  If the shortage concerns only some pharmacies, patients can be served by any other pharmacy of their choice.  
Will the GHS cover medical devices and consumables?
In addition to medicines, the GHS covers a number of medical devices and consumables.  The medical devices and consumables catalogue can be found on the HIO website.
When is a pharmacist entitled to change a medicine?
A pharmacist is entitled to change a medicine only when the following two conditions are fulfilled: a) the medicine given by the pharmacist has the same active substance and pharmaceutical form with the one the doctor prescribed and b) the medicine given by the pharmacist is the cheapest in its category and the beneficiary needs to pay only the Co-payment.
This replacement does not affect the safety or effectiveness of the therapy in any way since the two medicinal products (the one dispensed and the one prescribed) are essentially the same.
If, for example, there are 5 different brand names with exactly the same active substance (medicine) and the doctor has not prescribed the cheapest, then the pharmacist, with your approval, may change the prescribed medicine and give you the cheapest one. In this case, you only pay the Co-payment but not Contribution II.
Does the GHS reimburse any medicine prescribed by a doctor and does it reimburse it in full?
The GHS will compensate for all medicines included in the GHS Catalogue of medicines. 
The GHS, fully reimburse the cheapest medicine from each category of medicines included in the Catalogue.  In the case that the beneficiary chooses another medicine from the Catalogue (which belongs to the same category), the GHS will compensate for the amount, that is equal to the cheapest and the beneficiary will have to pay the difference (Contribution II).
Will I receive all the medicines prescribed to me immediately?
The majority of the medicines, will be dispensed immediately by the pharmacist.  However, for some highly specialised medicines a prior approval from HIO must be obtained before dispensing.
Where can I lodge a complaint about the quality of the healthcare services provided?
Complaints may be submitted through the Contact Centre either by phone or online, via the Beneficiary Portal, HIO Website, or by e-mail. 
If I have a repeated prescription and I'm going to travel outside Cyprus for more than a month, can I get my medication?

Yes. You may go up to twenty (20) days in advance and up to ten (10) days after the date you should normally have gone. Here is an illustrative example of a three-month recipe:

Date of issue
1st prescription excecution
2nd prescription 
3rd prescription
10/06/2019 10/06/2019 10/07/2019 10/08/2019
Period of validation
10 days after issue:
20 days before and 10 days after:
21/6/2019 – 20/7/2019
20 days before and 10 days after:
21/7/2019 – 20/8/2019