Applying for the European
Health Insuance Card (EHIC) in Austria

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One of the most important travel essentials you need to carry with you anywhere you go in the countries that make up the European Economic Area, or EEA, as well as Switzerland, is the European Health Insurance Card. This guarantees you access to the same basic healthcare services provided by each of these member countries to their respective citizens regardless of your nationality, as long as you are a national of a country that is a member of the EHIC community.

One thing that you should understand, however, is that the EHIC is not a substitute for a comprehensive personal or private health insurance or even a travel insurance. The reason for this is that there are certain instances when you will not be able to utilize the EHIC as there are also certain restrictions that you have to consider. Just think of the EHIC as a card that you apply for and gets issued to you and every member of your family that you can use whenever you need medical assistance while you are visiting another country that also uses the EHIC.

 It is also important to understand that the healthcare services that you will receive will be dependent on the treatments or services that are covered by the health insurance system of the country where you are visiting. You are entitled to the same level of care that the nationals of the host country receive themselves. As such, EHIC only covers healthcare provided by state-sponsored healthcare services and not those in the private sector.

In Austria, being a member of both the EEA and the European Union, applying for your EU card is easy. If you are in the UK, you simply logon to the EHIC portal and supply the necessary information including your name, address and national insurance identification number. Just make sure to apply for your card several months before the peak travel or holiday season simply because it can get really busy in the agency. For some individuals who may prefer having someone else facilitate the application and processing of their EHIC for them, they may get in touch with certain organizations that can help them in this regard.

The healthcare system of Austria is typical of any western democratic society. It is divided into a state-run health care system and a private sector. Every Austrian national is essentially covered by the country’s universal healthcare system. This is pretty much similar to the National Insurance system of the UK. This kind of healthcare service is what is covered by the EHIC.

There will be instances when you may require a certain procedure which is not under the universal healthcare framework of Austria. In such cases your EHIC won’t cover you. As such, you will have to have your own personal private comprehensive health or travel insurance to cover the cost of these procedures not guaranteed under the universal, state-operated healthcare system of Austria. For example, if you went on a skiing adventure on the slopes of the Austrian Alps and you figured in an accident, you may have to be rescued by a dedicated ski resort mountain rescue and then airlifted to the nearest hospital. The cost of the mountain rescue and the airlift is not covered by EHIC and as such you have to use your travel insurance.

Since EHIC only covers state-operated or sanctioned healthcare services, you have to be careful when seeking medical treatment in Austria. It is important to ask the doctor or the hospital first if they are operating under Austria’s universal healthcare system or not. If not, then you might be in for a surprise as they will not really accept your EHIC. However, they will accept your travel insurance or even your private health insurance.

Austria has a lot of beautiful places to offer. From the cultural heritage of Vienna to the ski resorts of the Alps, there clearly is something magnificent for everyone. Unfortunately, there simply is no telling whether you will be healthy throughout the duration of your holiday travel. You may catch a cold, get stomach upset, have high blood pressure, cut yourself, or even break a bone especially if you are the adrenaline-seeking type of person. That is why it is always a lot better to be prepared by carrying with you your EHIC wherever you are in Austria.

The EHIC was designed to help you make the most out of your holiday by assuring you of access to the universal healthcare system of Austria. It’s always reassuring that your basic healthcare needs are covered.