The EHIC Card Explained
If you are travelling abroad, then you want to make sure you remember to pack your EHIC card. If you don't have one yet, then I suggest you get one! Millions of UK travellers still do not have an EHIC card, and are completely unaware of its benefits and uses. The European Health Insurance Card gives people health coverage when they travel within the EEA and Switzerland. It essentially allows any EHIC card holder the same medical rights as any local resident, so that you can get treatment for free or at a reduced rate than they would otherwise pay as a non-card holder. Basically it gives you the same rights as a local resident of that country. However, it is important to note that the European Health card is not a replacement for Travel Insurance, so you will need to have both in order to ensure you are fully protected during your travels. The whole point in the EHIC card is to give people the flexibility to have treatment in whichever country they are in, without needing to travel back home for treatment. The European Health Insurance Card replaced the E111 in 2005.
Getting My European Health Insurance Card
Unlike the E111 form, you will receive a separate EHIC card for each family member and it will remain valid for up to 5 years. Once your EHIC expires you need to apply to renew your EHIC card.
How Do I Use My EHIC?
To use your EHIC while abroad you simply need to show your card before getting your medical treatment. This will then entitle you to the same rights as any local resident of that country. So if they would receive free treatment, then so should you. Though it is more than likely you would simply receive treatment at a lower cost than you otherwise would if you were not an European Health Insurance card holder. While presenting your EHIC, you may need to also show your passport as proof of ID, since your EHIC does not have your photo on it. Keep in mind that you can not use your EU Health Card in private clinics, they are only for state run practices.
What Does the European Health Card Not Cover?
Your EHIC Card doesn't cover people that are only travelling abroad to get treatment abroad. It also doesn't cover other things like dental work because these kinds of treatments are not urgent and can be undergone once the person returns to his or her own country.
Which Countries Accept the EHIC Card?
Here is a list of the countries that accept coverage by the European Health Card:
- Austria / Belgium / Bulgaria / Croatia / Czech Republic / Denmark / Estonia / Finland / France / Germany / Greece / Hungary / Iceland / Ireland / Italy / Latvia / Liechtenstein / Lithuania / Luxembourg / Malta / Netherlands
Can the EU Health Card Be a Replacement for Travel Insurance?
In short, the answer is no. Travel insurance is a much more comprehensive form of coverage, and should be used alongside an EHIC, not as a substitute. For example, travel insurance covers you for extra things like you needing to return home early for emergency reasons, for stolen luggage, cancelled flights, etc. The EHIC card however only contributes to the cost of you getting treatment, and nothing else.
What If My EHIC Card Is Refused While Abroad?
If you are attempting to use your European Health Insurance Card in a private institution or practice then it will be refused. However, there have been some reports of people being refused their EHIC card in state-run practices, where staff claimed they did not recognize the card. Unfortunately this can happen, especially in some parts of Spain. If you are wrongfully refused your EHIC card then be sure to report it, and also try your best to get proof of you presenting your card as this may help to prove your case and get the necessary reimbursements.