What is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
International Social Security
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to access state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge. It replaced the old E111 and is generally only valid when on holiday (not working) in an EEA country. However, when working it is sometimes required in addition to an E101.
Presenting the EHIC entitles you to treatment that may become necessary during your trip, but doesn't allow you to go abroad specifically to receive medical care.
Your EHIC will allow you access to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the country you are visiting. However, many countries expect the patient to pay towards their treatment, and even with an EHIC, you might be expected to do the same. To be reimbursed you should go to the Social Security Office of the country in which you are working. (for example : for Italy it is USL, for France it is CPAM…..)
The EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. For these reasons and others, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.
Applying for an EHIC is easy. Even if you don't have any plans to travel in the near future, it is always a good idea to get one. You can find further information and application forms at https://www.ehic.org.uk.
What does the EHIC cover?
- It will cover any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your stay because of either illness or an accident.
- The card gives access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers.
- It allows you to be treated on the same basis as a resident of the country you are visiting i.e. you may have to pay a patient contribution (also known as a co-payment).
- It includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.
- It includes routine maternity care, (provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth).
- It includes the provision of oxygen, renal dialysis and routine medical care.
What doesn't the EHIC cover?
- The EHIC is not a substitute or replacement for private travel insurance. You should always take out an appropriate private policy in addition to carrying your EHIC.
- It will not cover the costs of private healthcare or services that are not part of the state healthcare system.
- It will not cover the costs of being brought back to the UK.
- It will not allow you to go abroad to specifically receive treatment (including going abroad to give birth).
- The card may not be used in some regions.