European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a membership card which allows European citizens to pursue necessary medical care while being in a foreign country, free of charge or at a reduced cost. The card came as a replacement for the E111 certificate which basically had a similar intention as the EHIC.
Years later, after the E111 was replaced in 2005, the European countries increased their commitment to widening the participation. In 2013, 32 EU countries, including Switzerland agreed on creating a joint European healthcare system. Under this health insurance scheme, every European citizen will get the necessary medical treatment if it’s caught by surprise by an accident or an illness while being abroad. According to the most up-to-date statistics, over 40% of EU population have their EHIC card.
If you’re a European citizen and want to travel in other EU countries you must have your EHIC on your luggage otherwise in case of an emergency your health insurance in your home country won’t cover any of your medical expenses. Also, take care of exactly knowing what your insurance covers abroad if you don’t want to go beyond that and end up paying too much.
The following countries are part of the European Health Insurance agreement, therefore citizens of these countries are allowed to pursue an EHIC:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden Switzerland and United Kingdom.
Besides these countries, there some third countries with which the member states hold similar agreement for the medical protection of citizens of all agreed parties. Clearly, the list above doesn’t include the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.
How do I apply?
If you’re a citizen of the above-mentioned countries and you hold the public health insurance in your country of residence then you eligible to pursue an EHIC insurance. Also, if you’re a national of a non-EU country and legally residing in an EU country, Liechtein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland you can pursue your EHIC. Note, however, that Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland don’t accept the non-EU residents EHIC cards.
The application for your EHIC card can be carried online. Each country has an official website for everyone willing to apply for an EHIC card. Always keep in mind that your application for this health insurance charges no fee to you. Unfortunately, there are some scam websites that may pull out you to pay for such application so take care of them.
The best you can do is by contacting in person your public health insurance provider in your home country and they will help you with the application process and in this way you avoid any possible fraud.
What it covers your EHIC?
The biggest and the foremost problem people have when taking their EHIC card is not precisely knowing what it covers. It is important that the EHIC is strictly limited to a number of medical services to the insurer. Furthermore, its coverage may change depending on the country’s national health care system.
At its best, the European Health Care System is designed to cover the insurer’s basic medical needs while being in a foreign country. This includes pre-existing chronic illness like the kidney dialysis, the emergency cases and unexpected accidents. Holding this insurance card doesn’t cover your medical treatment if you travel abroad for the purpose of giving birth in the destination country. As an expectant mother your EHIC will cover only if you give birth to a child even though you were not expected to do during that period.
Below are some important notes everyone holding this health insurance card must be aware of:
Your EHIC card can be pursued in your home country and can be issued by your statutory health insurance provider. The application process as mentioned before can be carried online.
Your EHIC card is not an alternative to your travel insurance. Being so, the EHIC won’t cover any cost that the travel insurance is supposed to cover, for instance, your stolen things, your ticket for flying back home.
Moreover, if you go abroad with a clear purpose of seeking a private healthcare treatment, then your EHIC card won’t cover you anymore. This includes any private treatment you were not able to pursue in your homeland, any advanced dental care and so on.
Your EHIC doesn’t every medical cost, you may have abroad. Furthermore, the limits at which the EHIC coverage extents differ from country to country, depending on each health insurance policy. For example, the statutory health insurance system in a foreign country may charge you with a nominal fee for a medical need that in your home country wouldn’t be paying anything. This is entirely due to different public health insurance scheme between your homeland and the other country. In other words, you’ll be taken care of same as the resident of one country who holds a public health insurance there.
Your EHIC card covers only the health insurance of the person who’s holding it. If you want to cover any member of your family you have to get an EHIC for each of them.
Get to understand the portable documents
When getting insured under the European Health Insurance scheme, you will also receive some other documents in letter form apart from your EHIC card. Under the European health insurance scheme reform, the former E-certificates were replaced by a group of more comprehensive documents, with one of them being the EHIC card. In contrast to other 9 portable documents the EHIC is not in the letter form, but as a card. Basically, a portable document is what makes sure you to be covered in certain circumstances while being abroad. For example, in case of an emergency or an accident abroad, you can seek the required medical treatment with your D1 portable document.
Note that you can still pursue a health insurance in EU countries, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland even though you may have been insured in another country. If you’re abroad with a purpose rather than working, therefore on a short visit, you can still seek your EHIC card. Simply get to your health insurance provider in the country you reside and ask if your EHIC card covers in the country where you’re about to go or seek an S1 form to register for a local health insurance company in the country you’re visiting. The health insurance through S1 is very common for retirees or for family members of a migrant worker. For example, the family members of a migrant working abroad may live in their country of origin but now are also covered under their family member insurance abroad.