A popular health insurance option for European travelers, the European Health Insurance Card offers a uniform plan that is valid in all EU member countries. In this post, we will explain who is eligible for this card, what benefits it provides, and how one can be obtained.
Benefits provided by the European Health Insurance Card
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides a high level of coverage and it is valid in any EU member country as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Any treatment that is required upon a visit to a doctor or a medical center is covered by the card, whether it’s related to illness, accident or even a pre-existing condition. The card also provides coverage for maternity care, however this does not extend to giving birth itself (not covered). A good way to think about the card is that it provides coverage of most everything that is needed for you to keep your trip going.
What does it cost?
The card itself is free and most treatments will cost nothing. It’s important to note, however, that coverage and pricing can vary from country to country and you may have to pay some money towards your treatment in certain places.
Who is eligible to receive the EHIC?
The EHIC is only available for European Union residents (and those of Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) who are currently subscribed to a state social security system. Legal residents of EU countries who belong to a state social security system are also eligible.
Does the EHIC replace the need for travel insurance?
No, it does not. For one, it does not cover lost property or theft. Furthermore, with respect to health insurance, it will not cover emergency evacuation or private rescue services that may be used. For example, say that you are skiing in the alps and you have an accident on the slopes. If you are rescued by ski patrol and lifted off the mountain by helicopter, the EHIC will do nothing to cover the costs.
Would you recommend the EHIC?
If you are eligible for the card and plan on traveling in Europe, it would be a good idea to get one. The card costs nothing and it provides excellent coverage. While it is not comprehensive and does not cancel out the need for more substantial travel insurance, it goes a long way for a free service.
For more information on the EHIC, see here