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EHIC Card Application - Made Easy
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EHIC Application - Participating Countries
The participating countries in the European Health Insurance Card scheme include the 28 member countries of the European Union and the 4 members of the European Free Trade Association. Collectively, the EHIC reflects member states of the European Economic Area or EEA.
EHIC Renewal - Your European Health Insurance Card Application Made Easy.
If you’re a European who is a legal resident of a nation belonging to the European Economic Area and Switzerland, the European Health insurance Card or simply EHIC is one of the most important documents you simply need to have if you do intend to travel outside of your home country and into other member countries.
Health is considered by governments as a fundamental right of every citizen of the world. A healthy nation can only be achieved if basic healthcare services are provided for and guaranteed by the government. This is basically the foundation of health insurance as a function of governments.
But what if your country belongs to an international organization of nations such as the European Economic Community? Will this not be covered by the agreement that exists among and between member nations?
The European Health Insurance Card is a document that you bring with you whenever you travel to any of the 28 member states of the European Union as well as the 4 member nations of the European Free Trade Association. It is a health insurance document that guarantees European travelers and holiday vacationers access to health care services that are provided and guaranteed by the host country so that they will be able to fully recover and get well until such time that they will be going back to their respective countries. This guarantees them access to equitable healthcare services without the need to cut short their vacation or holiday travels and go back to their home country to seek medical assistance. The EHIC solves that.
Now, it should be understood that the medical treatment services may vary from one member country to another. This is highly dependent on what diseases or illnesses are essentially covered by the statutory social security programs of each member state of the EU and the EFTA. For example, if your home country covers the treatment of a particular disease, you cannot really expect that your host country (the country which you are going to travel to for a visit or a holiday) will also cover the same disease with the same treatment. It is possible that the host country has a different coverage system.
The reason for this is based on the principle that health care provided in Europe must not be based on the individual’s country of citizenship but rather on his or her country of legal residence. So if you are British and you are traveling to Germany for a holiday and you inadvertently got sick or even met an accident, then you will be entitled to receive medical treatment based on the health insurance system of Germany, not the United Kingdom.
How Does The E111 Form it Work?
Like the now-defunct E111, you will need to carry with you the EHIC at all times when travelling to any of the 28 member nations of the European Union including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. This is to make sure that you will have access to healthcare for free or at a reduced cost provided they offer the health care service that you require or that the treatment that you seek is covered in the health insurance program of that country. This also means that you can only seek healthcare services from a state healthcare provider, be it a practitioner, a hospital, or a clinic. The point is that the EHIC works as an agreement between and among the governments of the participating countries.
This does not mean that you cannot seek treatment from the private sector. However, you do have to double check if they do recognize and accept the EHIC in their practice. Typically, private doctors will not honor the EHIC but there have been instances where a private medical practitioner recognizes and accepts the EHIC.
So, if you develop a certain medical condition in the country where you are traveling or visiting – food poisoning, heart attack, sudden fever, or even traumatic injuries – you can seek healthcare treatment from a government physician, hospital, or clinic and simply present your European Health Insurance Card. You may need to present your passport or any other government-issued identification card that bears your picture and your personal information since the EHIC doesn’t have your photo. You can also use the EHI Card to avail of surgical treatment procedures as well as buy medications prescribed by the government or state physician.
Once you have received the necessary treatment, you will have to ask for a certificate proving that you used your European Health Insurance Card and which you will be submitting to your insurance provider once you arrive back home in your own country. You may also have to ask for official receipts for anything that you are going to pay for, often at a discounted rate, and which you can use to reimburse later on. In most cases, you may have to shoulder the expenses including the diagnostic tests conducted, the treatment regimen provided, and the medications prescribed at the time you availed of these. You can then reimburse these so don’t forget the receipts as well as pertinent paperwork like medical resume and certificates.
There are some member countries that provide certain medical treatments and healthcare services absolutely free of charge. This simply means you go to the nearest accredited state physician or healthcare provider, present your EHIC, and receive the necessary treatment without having to worry if you have enough money to shoulder the expenses.
Know also that there are certain countries where you may be asked to pay for what they call a patient contribution. Understand that whatever amount you pay as co-payment or as patient contribution is non-reimbursible.
So, with the EHIC, you get to enjoy the many wonders of Europe without having to worry about your state of health.
What does The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) Cover?
Equal healthcare to citizens
You are guaranteed to receive quality healthcare services in the same manner that the citizens of the host country are entitled to or are receiving. So, if you are British and you go elsewhere in Europe, don’t expect to receive a British-like healthcare service. What you will receive is exactly the same healthcare services that every citizen of the host country receive.
Free or reduced price healthcare
You get access to free medical treatment or even healthcare services at a reduced price. However, these are only applicable from recognized state or government healthcare providers of the host country. There are certain private medical practitioners who may be willing to accept EHIC but it’s best to double check.
You are also entitled to routine maternity care such as emergency delivery or even the administration of certain fetoplacental unit monitoring. Again, as long as you did not purposely visit the country just to give birth, then EHIC will cover some or all of your treatments.
Medical oxygen and Kidney dialysis
You will also have access to medical oxygen as well as kidney dialysis. However, it is often advised to coordinate with the renal unit in your home country even before you travel so they can help coordinate with the government of the host country. The same is true with the use of medical oxygen.
Medical treatment for any illness that develops in the host country
You get medical treatment for an illness or an accident that occurs or develops during the course of your stay in the host country. This simply means that your purpose for visiting the country is not to seek medical treatment but to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the host country. If your purpose for visiting is to specifically seek medical treatment, EHIC will not cover you. As such, it is always advisable to get a separate comprehensive private health insurance that will cover such needs. It should be made clear that the EHIC will only cover any medical or healthcare concern that develops or occurs while you are in the host country.
Medical treatment for pre-existing conditions
You get medical treatment for any pre-existing medical condition or any chronic disease that may have worsened or may require immediate and emergency treatment during your stay at the host country. For example, if you are diabetic and you suffered a complication, you are entitled to receive diabetic treatment at a state medical facility. As long as the purpose of your visit is not to get treatment, you are covered by the EHIC.
It should be made very clear that EHIC is just like any other government-sponsored health care insurance system that is provided to the citizens and legal residents of member nations of the EEA and Switzerland. As long as the goal of the travel is not to seek treatment in the receiving or host country, then medical treatment can be provided free of charge; if not, at a much lower price.
The EHIC renewal scheme does not cover the following.
Medical treatment provided by a private medical practitioner or a healthcare institution that is not part of or recognized by the healthcare system of the government of the host country.
Cost of traveling back to your home country after receiving medical care in the host country using your EHIC.
Cost of a mountain rescue performed on ski resorts.
Cost of treatment if the purpose of the travel is specifically to seek medical treatment.
Is the EU card an Alternative to Travel Insurance?
One of the most common misconceptions about the EHIC is that it replaces your travel insurance. Unfortunately, it does not. You will still be advised to have your travel insurance because the EHIC only covers medical treatments provided by state healthcare providers and practitioners. It does not cover most, if not all, privately-administered medical treatments and procedures. And if you happen to visit a European country that does not have a state health insurance, then you will need a travel insurance. Not all countries in Europe are signatories or participants to the EHIC scheme. So if you travel to these countries, it is a must that you have a separate private insurance. Additionally, certain medical treatments are not fully covered by the EHIC which would mean you will have to shoulder it. And if it happens that the cost is rather prohibitive, a comprehensive travel insurance will definitely come in handy.
How can I Renew My EHIC?
Applying for an EHIC has been made super easy. You just have to log onto the appropriate website of the government agency that handles EHIC in your home country. Some countries automatically issue the EHIC together with their respective national health cards. Typically, you will furnish your complete name, date of birth, and address as well as national health insurance identification number. Know that it is free to apply for an EHIC. However, there are some companies who serve as bridges between individuals and EHIC-issuing agencies. These companies may charge you a fee for their services. The EHIC is valid for 5 years so you have to be updated with the expiration of your card to enjoy the full benefits of the system.
Applying Online - EHIC Renewal Restrictions
While EHIC is designed to make traveling a lot more enjoyable by providing access to healthcare in the host country, the actual implementation is still dependent on the host country. Here are some EHIC restrictions.
Switzerland does not accept the EHIC of nationals from Cyprus, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, and Poland.
Swiss nationals are not covered in Norway and Liechtenstein except for emergency medical treatments.
Legal residents (non-citizens) of the UK, the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland are not covered in Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and Liechtenstein. If they are in Iceland, they are only entitled to emergency treatment.
A Brief History of the EHIC
Before the EHIC, European travelers and/or tourists visiting other European countries had to carry with them a medical form called the E111. It contained all the pertinent personal and medical information that you will ever need should you require emergency medical treatment in the country that you are visiting. For example, if you went on a holiday in the beaches of the French Riviera or on a skiing holiday in Austria or even Switzerland, you will have to carry this A4-sized document.
Technically, the E111 is a document that you take with you wherever you went. Whether it is on the snowy slopes of the Alps, the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean, or any other scenic and truly fascinating landmark in Europe, you had to have your E111 with you.
Why? Accidents do happen. Your stomach may not be that strong against the water they served you in a street food stall or maybe you were bitten by an insect and you developed an anaphylactic reaction to it or maybe you just hit your head on the bathroom tiles while taking a shower. If you have a chronic medical condition and you forgot to bring your emergency medications with you, your E111 could pretty well save your life.
Unfortunately, since you will be bringing the E111 with you wherever you go, there have been many instances when this medical form got torn, became unreadable, or was clearly damaged that doctors and healthcare providers requesting to see it before giving you the treatment often have a very difficult time deciphering the contents of the form. The law is very explicit. If you are traveling and you require immediate medical treatment, you have to present your E111.
And here’s another problem. The E111 is good for the entire family. If you are traveling solo, then this is not an issue. However, it becomes a concern when you will be traveling as a family. Sometimes, other members of the family may wish to go somewhere else and on their own. If they require medical assistance, what E111 will they present if the only copy of the E111 is in your possession? Or, the better question is who gets to be the guardian of the E111? Unfortunately, this E111 guardian must be present or must be able to accompany the family member who requires medical attention so that he or she can present the E111.
Such hassles were finally addressed in 2004 with the introduction of the European Health Insurance Card. This actually solved a lot of the problems posed by the E111. It was considered far more sensible to carry a card than a paper. There is no longer any large sheet of A4 that can be torn to pieces, drenched in water, destroyed, or even burned. It’s small so it fits in your wallet. It won’t get mutilated. Best of all, you can apply for an EU Card for every member of your family. This is great news especially for kids who may have to join a school trip overseas or take a holiday with their friends. They can carry their very own EHI Card.
The EHIC was launched on the first day of June 2004 and eventually taking full effect on the first day of the year 2006. By New Year 2006, the old and easily-mutilated E111 was completely phased out in favor of the EHIC. With the dawn of the internet age, the creators of the EHIC found it even easier and ultimately more convenient for Europeans to just apply online rather than sending it via the snail-paced postal mail. It was fast and very efficient.
Such is the transformation of a paper-based health insurance document to a card-based insurance you can take with you wherever you may go, provided, of course, that the country you’re visiting is a participant to the European Health Insurance Card scheme.