Do I still Need Travel Insurance When I Already have My EHIC?
One of the most common misconception people have about the European Health Insurance Card is that it is a replacement of the comprehensive travel insurance policy. Unfortunately, this is not so. If there is anything that the EHIC replaces, it is the E111 Form prior to 2004. In fact, if you really want superb coverage for all of your healthcare and travel needs, you will need both your EHIC and your very own comprehensive travel insurance as these complement each other.
Why is this so? For starters, it is vital to understand what EHIC is primarily intended for. The European Health Insurance Card is just like your ticket to the various medical treatments or health care regimens that are provided by the public or state health sector of a number of governments that chose to adopt the European Health Insurance system as an instrument of unifying Europe. The EHIC is thus only valid in countries that have been officially recognized as members of the European Economic Area including Switzerland.
Understand that EHIC will only cover medical treatments that are deemed necessary so you can continue having a great time in the country you are traveling to. This means that if the treatment is non-urgent or is optional, then EHIC won’t cover you. Additionally, these treatments and health services must be provided by professionals or institutions that are duly-registered and fully funded by the insurance system of the government of the host country. If you receive treatment from a private practitioner or from a private institution that is not registered or covered by the host country’s state insurance system, then you really cannot expect EHIC to cover you either.
In all of these instances wherein EHIC won’t provide you coverage, you will need your comprehensive personal health care insurance.
There are also health-related services that are not covered by EHIC. For example, if you were on a skiing holiday and you figured in a mishap, you will have to be rescued from your mountain resort and brought to the nearest healthcare facility. The mountain rescue services, while they are responsible for your extraction and evacuation from the accident site, are not covered by EHIC. This means you will have to pay for these services from your own pocket. Also in some countries, the ambulance services are absolutely free of charge if not covered by EHIC at a substantially discounted price. However, there are also countries, even though they accept EHIC, which do not cover ambulance services. Again, you will have to shoulder these expenses yourself. If you got sick, received treatment, and would like to return home to continue with your treatment, the ride back home is not shouldered or covered by your EHIC.
These situations all point to the need for a comprehensive travel insurance every time you go abroad. EHIC, while the aim is noble, is still dependent on the existing healthcare policies of the host country. For instance, the public healthcare services framework in the United Kingdom will be slightly different to those that they have in Estonia or even in Liechtenstein and Iceland. There may be medical procedures or treatments that are freely given in other countries yet are charged a fee in others. There are also certain diseases that are covered by EHIC in one country but not covered in another.
The important thing to remember about EHIC is that, while it does give you access to the host country’s state-funded health care programs, the specific provisions are dependent on the nation you intend to visit. That is why many organizations such as MyEHIC always try to educate their clients about the ins and outs of the EHIC. And one of the most important teachings is to first find out the existing health care policies of the country that you may wish to visit. MyEHIC also strongly advises its many clients to always complement their European Health Insurance Card with a travel insurance or even a comprehensive health insurance policy. This is very essential especially if you are going to a country that don’t accept EHIC or may have slightly different policies as to what is covered by the European Health insurance system. It is always a lot better to travel well-prepared.