If you plan to travel to any country within the EU having health insurance is a must even for a short trip. Whether you plan a holiday or a visit for business, owning an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will be an asset for any medical emergency and complement any travel insurance you may have as well.
The European Health Insurance Card
There is no cost for getting an EHIC issued with the card enabling an individual to get access to emergency medical treatment at any state hospital or clinic in any country of the EU. The point to note is that treatment is only offered at state-healthcare-run facilities and not private clinics. However, the EHIC is no substitute for travel insurance as that covers a much more extensive range than the EHIC. The validity of the card will be subject to the country it is issued in.
Using the EHIC
An EHIC offers coverage for any kind of medical emergency when we are on a trip to any country in the European Union. It is specifically meant for unplanned care like sudden sickness, any kind of emergency needing hospitalisation or an accident. An EHIC will not offer coverage for medical repatriation or any kind of planned treatment. It also is not valid for use at any private healthcare clinic.
When you need to travel to any EEA/ EU nation or Switzerland carrying the EHIC card is always recommended. If there is any unplanned medical situation where hospitalisation is needed or you need to buy medication, the card needs to be furnished for reimbursements. This is only meant for use at state healthcare facilities. Always ask for a receipt for the money spent. However, in some nations, the treatment may be free of cost, while in others it will be subsidised and you will need to pay the same cost as that country’s citizens. Even if you do need to pay for a prescription or treatment this can be reclaimed from the social services department of your own country.
Those eligible for an EHIC
In certain countries, even NON-EU citizens are eligible for the card. For them to apply for a card they must be legal residents of an EU country and have social security. However, they cannot use the EHIC for medical treatment in Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Denmark.
Every legal citizen of the EU and the EEA (EU & Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway) that are already having statutory health insurance in their country.
Any Croatian national cannot use the EHIC in Switzerland.
Getting a European Health Insurance Card
Every EU country issues its card to its citizens. In the UK most of its nationals are now being issued GHIC cards as a substitute for EHIC after Brexit. While certain EU nations issue EHICs to their citizens by default in others the nationals have to apply for their cards.
Every individual in a family must have a card.
For any individual to be eligible for an EHIC, they must be on the social security roll of the country.
Renewing the EHIC
Renewing the EHIC is free of cost. It can be applied for renewal up to 6 months before the expiration date however, no extra days are carried over to the replacement card. The renewal process differs from one nation to another and in most cases can be done online if there has been no change in the cardholder’s details.