When Should I Renew My European Health Insurance Card?
One of the most important documents or instruments that you should carry all the time especially if you are traveling or taking a holiday in any of the 28 member nations of the European Union and the 4 member countries of the European Free Trade Association, collectively called the European Economic Area, is the European Health Insurance Card, or simply EHIC. This small piece plastic tells healthcare professionals like doctors and dentists who are affiliated with state-run or government-funded institutions of these countries that you are also entitled to receive the same level and quality of medical treatment and health care that the citizens of these countries receive. These care or treatments can be provided to you free of charge or these can be provided at a significantly reduced price.
It is important to keep your European Health Insurance Card fully updated so that you can be guaranteed of these benefits or entitlements whenever you visit any of these 32 countries. Whether you will be going on a cultural visit, a gastronomic adventure, walk the trail, frolic in the beach, go on a shopping spree, or simply attend a business meeting or a convention, the EHIC is your guarantee to high quality, efficient, and systematic public health care services.
So when should you renew your card or that of your family members?
The European Health Insurance Card has a validity of 5 years although in some countries, it may be as short as 3 years. The validity commences as soon as you have submitted your application and terminates with its expiry. This means that once you have applied, even without the physical card yet, you are already covered by the European Health Insurance system. While your EHIC is in force, you are entitled to a lot of benefits which can include the following:
- Health care or medical treatment for any injuries sustained while temporarily staying in the host country or on a vacation or holiday in the host country;
- Health care or medical treatment for any illness that may develop while having a holiday or temporarily staying in the host country, provided the illness requires necessary treatment as evaluated or assessed by state physicians or healthcare providers;
- Health care or medical treatment for any chronic condition or pre-existing disease which may require continuous or routine care, provided that this is not the reason for visiting the host country;
- Health care or medical treatment for pregnant women who may show obstetric concerns such as premature labor, provided she did not purposely visit the host country just to give birth;
- Dental care and treatments for oral and dental health conditions that can no longer wait for you to return to your home country, provided that this is also not the reason why you visited the host country; and
- Purchase of prescription medications at a reduced price from state-sponsored or government-funded pharmacies.
Making sure that your EHIC is valid assures you of these benefits wherever you may go in the EEA and Switzerland. Typically, it is advisable that you renew your EHI Card around 6 months prior to its expiration. For example, if your EHIC expires in December 2017, then you can initiate the renewal of your EHIC as early as June 2017. The point is for you to look at your travel plans in the immediate future. If you are not going to go overseas anytime soon, then you can delay the renewal of your EHIC. However, it is a must that even before you make your overseas travel plans, your EHIC should already be fully updated and renewed.
If you lost your EHIC, was stolen, or have not yet received it, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate which will be sent directly to the institution where you are receiving your medical treatment. Remember that the validity of the EHIC commences from the date you applied for it until it officially expires. So, you are already entitled to the different benefits of the EHIC. You don’t have to worry anymore about getting medical treatments in other countries once you travel abroad.
It is essential that you renew your EHIC at the soonest possible time, with or without plans for an overseas holiday. At least, once you have renewed your EHIC and that of your family members, you can find peace that, should you have a sudden, unplanned overseas travel, you will be covered by the EHIC.
MyEHIC can help you renew your EHIC. It’s fast and super-efficient. All you have to do is relax as MyEHIC processes your renewal.