In Europe, every citizen is admitted in the national healthcare system. And quite a reasonable percentage of medical services are free. These free medical services are under the provision of the doctors who are under the employment of the government. In some of these European countries, there is equally an opportunity for independent insurance companies to operate and thrive in the European health insurance system. And just the way there is room for doctors to run and operate private medical practices.

Most European countries operate almost a free health care system. They have healthcare available for all of its citizens. And have developed healthcare systems which compete favorably with private health insurance companies, along with government regulation. They equally go as far as providing subsidies for her citizens who cannot afford to pay health insurance premiums. In European member countries, the European health insurance card entitles you to necessary medical care during the holder’s temporary stay abroad.

The European health insurance card

The European health insurance card entitles you to necessary medical care during the holder’s temporary stay abroad. It is always free. And gives the holder a free access state funded medical care in any of the European countries when the holder of the card travels abroad. However, this does not include

  1. Treatment in a private clinic abroad
  2. Intentional medical treatment abroad
  3. A medical treatment on a cruise ship
  4. Repatriation

What is principally under coverage are

  1. Emergency treatment such as visits to accident and emergency units
  2. Random medical checks for an already existent medical condition which requires routine monitoring
  3. Maternity medical attention provided that you are not travelling abroad to give birth. In order words, if you are intentionally travelling abroad to give birth, the EHIC will not cover you. However, in a situation where the child birth happens unexpectedly, the EHIC will cover all medical bills in connection to the birth.
  4. Treatment for a pre existing medical condition.
  5. Treatments of high necessity such as kidney dialysis or oxygen therapy.

In essence, a holder of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be able to receive essential medical care if he becomes ill while on holiday in Europe where the EHIC is valid and operational.

Countries where the EHIC is valid

The EHIC is valid in the territories of the European member states (EU), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland (for only United Kingdom Nationals, Switzerland citizens and European Union citizens) and the United Kingdom.

However, it is noteworthy to note that the European health insurance card is not valid in a country where you live. It is only available when you travel outside your country.

These European countries include; Germany, Belgium, Austria Croatia, Bulgaria, Republic Of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Ireland, Hungary, Latvia, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Slovakia And Sweden

How the European health insurance card works

The working of the EHIC is that it is your foreign health care provider that gets reimbursement for the costs of your medical bills. In other words, if you receive medical care abroad, the foreign healthcare provider will apply for reimbursement for the costs from your insurer. In the event you exceed the financial limit of your policy or receive treatment for an item not covered, you will pay the rest out of your own pocket.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is at the reverse of the e-card. The e- card is an electronic card within the website which is always sent to EHIC holders. The EHIC ensures that you receive medical care according to the regulations and limitations of the respective country.

The EHIC is personal. Therefore even if the whole family members enjoy coverage, they must have their individual cards. And for you to be able to use the EHIC abroad, you must fill the place provided for filling in your data behind e-card completely. Therefore, if you fail to fill them, it will not be acceptable as a proof for entitlement. However, If you are not insured or not long enough at the time of issuing your e-card you may fill some columns of the EHIC with asterisks. But in this situation, you will have to put your insurer on notice before embarking in your journey to provide you will Provisional Replacement Certificate.

As a result of bilateral agreements, the EHIC and the PRC are valid in most European countries (EU, Swiss EEA, Serbia United Kingdom, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Hercegovina).

Please NOTE that For Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, you will have to present your EHIC to the social insurance institution in Austria in charge of your place of stay so as to exchange it for a valid entitlement certificate.

Reimbursement for treatment abroad

In the event your travels are to other countries which are not covered by the EHIC, you must pay the costs of any necessary medical treatment out of your own pocket. However, you will have to apply for reimbursement when you return.

Do you need health insurance while travelling to Europe?

The answer to the above question is in the affirmative. When you travel from your country to Europe, and even the Schengan areas, you will need your travel insurance. Your Travel medical insurance represents the most important asset for your travels. This is because without your travels insurance, your medical expenses will skyrocket if you get sick or sustain injuries while on your travel abroad.


The European health insurance card does not serve as an alternative for travel insurance. It is therefore advised that you always travel with your travel insurance card together with EHIC. This is because EHIC may not cover all your medical bills abroad. It does not also cover your repatriation costs which your travel insurance will ordinarily cover.

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