Can I Reimburse the Expenses for the Treatments I Paid For?
Different countries have different policies when it comes to paying for state-provided services. In some countries, the services provided may be free of charge because it is already well-funded by the state’s social security system. However, there are also countries that expect you to pay a certain fee for the same medical or health services. It is therefore, highly recommended that, before traveling to another country, you need to carefully understand the prevailing healthcare policies of that country so you won’t be surprised to be expected to pay upfront when you thought the medical treatment was for free.
The European Health Insurance card effectively enables you to receive the same kind and quality of health care that residents or citizens of that country are receiving. This is the very essence of the EHIC.
However, there have been recent changes in the way EHIC-related expenses are refunded or reimbursed. In the past, when you pay for a particular treatment in a foreign country, you can seek a refund for your expenses upon your return to your home country. However, beginning July 1st 2014, all EHIC cardholders who availed of the healthcare services of the country they are visiting are now obliged to claim a refund in the country they are in, before they return to their home country. This essentially means that you can no longer claim a refund upon your return. It is therefore, crucial that you obtain all pertinent documents such as medical certificates, official receipts, and doctors’ prescriptions so you can file a claim for refund while you are still in the particular country.
The changes in the policies of EHIC refunds also have implications in the increasing importance of travel insurance to cover for expenditures that may come out of flight delays and/or cancellations, theft or loss of personal belongings, repatriation, and even private medical and healthcare treatments. These expenses are not covered by EHIC and as such, it is imperative that you obtain all relevant and pertinent documents for claims purposes.
The European Health Insurance Card can be likened to your passport as it gives you the opportunity to access the healthcare services of the country you are currently located. While not all countries of the European Economic Area, which is essentially made up of the 28-member states of the European Union and the 4 member-countries of the European Free Trade Association that includes Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland, provide state-run medical treatments free of charge, the cost of healthcare services they provide to EHI Cardholders is nonetheless lower than if you did not have your EHIC.
For instance, if you get hospitalized in Austria, you will be charged around 20 Euros per day as the cost of your hospitalization. You can also stay in the hospital for a maximum of 28 days with the same daily rate. Know that this rate is what Austrians would normally pay if they themselves were hospitalized. Without your EHIC, you may be paying more than 20 Euros per day. It could be even double or triple often depending on the existing policies of the Austrian government related to the health care costs of treatments and services provided to non-EHIC holders. The point is that, with your EHIC, you are entitled to be treated as if you were a citizen or a national of that particular country. Without your EHIC, then you will be classified and treated as a foreigner who will have to be subject to different rules.
Falling ill while on a holiday in a foreign land can be anxiety-provoking. Not only are you not able to enjoy what you went there to do but you are also left with the possibility that you will be paying expensive fees for medical treatments and procedures. That is why it is imperative that you bring with you your EHIC every time you travel abroad. It is equally essential that you have your travel or comprehensive health insurance with you to cover for expenses that are not guaranteed under the unified European Health Insurance scheme.
If all these sound confusing to you, you can call MyEHIC so one of their advisers can help answer your queries. They can even help you apply for, renew, and update your EHIC.