EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)

The European Health Insurance card is free and yet it can be invaluable for Europeans’ travelling within Europe. This insurance though alone is not enough. Below we rake a further look at what the EHIC covers and what it does not cover.

What is the EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is an essential piece of documentation for anybody from the European Union (EU) who is travelling to another EU member state. Those in possession of the EHIC can receive healthcare treatment which is either free or at a reduced cost. The EHIC must be applied for in a person’s home state.

European Health Insurance Card

European Health Insurance Card

Who is eligible for the EHIC?

The EHIC is available to anybody who either has valid health insurance or is covered by state health cover. Citizens of the UK, for example, are all eligible for the card as healthcare is covered by the state. In certain EU states there is a requirement for people to have held an insurance policy for a certain amount of time before they are eligible for the EHIC.

What healthcare treatment is covered?

The EHIC will not cover the cost of minor medical treatment which is pre-existing when the card holder arrives in the country of treatment, although it will cover treatment required for pre-existing chronic conditions. Most importantly, the EHIC will cover some or all of the cost for any treatment required as a result of symptoms which arise during the card holder’s visit to the state in which they will receive treatment. The card holder should be eligible to treatment which is available to the host nation’s residences through the state healthcare system free of charge. However, in some countries you may be required to pay a small contribution.

Routine maternity care is covered by the EHIC, although the cost of birth and any related treatment will only be covered if the birth is not expected during the visit.

It is important to note that only symptoms which are treated by the statutory healthcare in the card holder’s home state will be cover by the EHIC. This means that travel insurance is still a very important commodity, especially if the traveller is undertaking activities such as diving or rock climbing which could be considered dangerous. Dental treatment is not covered by the EHIC as it is considered that the patient can wait until they return home.

How long is it valid for and how to book it?

The EHIC is valid for up to five years. Some sites charge for helping you get a EHIC card but you do NOT need to pay anything. Just fill in forms online such as as via the UK EHIC card site. Learn more also about European travel insurance.