Monday, 17 June 2019

European Health Insurance Card

"Elektronische Gesundheitskarte Mustermann RS" by Lumu is a Public Domain work.

The European Health Insurance Card (commonly known as an EHIC) was first issued in 2004 and is proof of entitlement to medical treatment within Europe; with the European health insurance card, you are entitled to health insurance and your medical expenses are covered under the legislation in force in the country you are visiting. [1]

However, it has come to my attention that a lot of my European friends haven't been made aware of this. In the unlikely event that you were to be injured abroad, they could be stung with having to pay for treatment if they were to see a doctor.

You should also ask for a receipt or certificate any time you use your European Health Insurance Card. In some countries, state healthcare is totally free and you will pay nothing. Otherwise, you will usually be asked to pay for the treatment or prescription at the time and you reclaim some or all of the cost afterwards. [2]

"Hospital room ubt" by Tomasz Sienicki is a public domain work.

Currently, you can use your EHIC within the European Economic Area (All European Union members plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. To qualify for an EHIC, you must either meet one of two criteria:


  • Be a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.
  • Be a non-citizen but legal resident in the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.

For non-citizens to receive the EHIC, they must pay or be covered by social security. However, you cannot use your EHIC for treatment in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Croatians cannot use their EHIC in Switzerland. [2]

It's also good custom to buy travel insurance along with using your EHIC card, If you’re unlucky enough to need more serious or emergency medical treatment then the Association of British Insurers recommends using your travel insurance as policies provide not only medical cover, but will often cover other subsequent costs, which can be anything from rearranging your flight home, to having a family member stay on with you and even taxis and transport to the hospital for further appointments. [3]


Residents of Europe can apply for an EHIC on the official website, the UK version is available here. Don't get stung by companies who'll charge for a 'fast-track' service as EU law reiterates that the EHIC card is free of charge.

For now, I will continue to consider that the UK is still a member of the European Union until a final decision has been made; there is a lot of speculation as to what will happen as Brexit has already been delayed... twice, but "If the UK leaves with no deal, your EHIC will no longer be valid." [4]

So no matter what you're doing or where you're going this year, don't get stung by medical expenses and make sure you're covered for any unnecessary events.

I'm off to France in 2 weeks tomorrow to write about the Dune of Pilat and do some Sandboarding while I'm there, I've already got my EHIC and travel insurance.


References:

[1]: APRIL International. 2019. The European Health Insurance Card. [ONLINE] Available at: https://uk.april-international.com/en/administrative-procedures/european-health-insurance-card. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

[2]: Expatica. 2019. EHIC: European Health Insurance Card explained | Expatica. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.expatica.com/healthcare/healthcare-basics/ehic-european-health-insurance-card-explained-100250/#EHICwork. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

[3]: lovemoney.com. 2019. What does an EHIC really cover? | lovemoney.com. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.lovemoney.com/guides/16395/what-does-an-ehic-really-cover. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

[4]: BBC News. 2019. Will the EHIC be valid after Brexit? - BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44850972. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

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