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Frequently Asked Questions - The European Health Insurance Card

You can obtain a card by contacting your local health authority as each individual country is responsible for producing and distributing the card in its own territory.

To be eligible for a card, you must be insured by or covered by a state social security system in any Member State of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Each separate member of a family travelling should have their own card. People from third countries who are resident in one of the EU Member States and are covered by a state social security scheme are also eligible for a card . However, please note that third country nationals cannot use their EHIC for medical treatment in Denmark.

The only personal information on the European Health Insurance Card is the cardholder’s first name and surname, personal identification number and date of birth. The European Health Insurance Card does not contain medical data.

This varies from one country to another and is best to check when you contact your local health authority to obtain the card.

If you ask for the European Health Insurance Card, your local authority is obliged to provide you with one or, failing that, with a provisional replacement certificate if the card is not immediately available. If they do not, you should be able to appeal. The European Commission can offer information on how you can enforce your rights and suggests that you contact Solvit in the first instance to see how to make a complaint.

The only personal information on the European Health Insurance Card is the cardholder’s first name and surname, personal identification number and date of birth. The European Health Insurance Card does not contain medical data.

Depending of the legislation of the country where you are staying, health care is either free or, if you have to pay, you will be reimbursed. If you have to pay up-front, the card will guarantee that you receive money back in that country or, if you were not able complete the reimbursement procedure, soon after you return home by your local health authority. The health care is provided in accordance with the legislation of the country that you are visiting. If you have any doubts about what health care and which costs your card covers you for, you are advised to contact that country’s health authority.

If the need arises, you will still receive the treatment necessary to enable you to continue your holiday without having to return home for treatment. But remember that the card will make it easier for you to access free medical care on the spot or for you to be reimbursed if you have to pay up front. That is why, when you travel to another Member State of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, whether for private or professional reasons, you are strongly advised to do so with a European Health Insurance Card.

Medical ethics dictate that a doctor cannot refuse to treat you if your state of health requires treatment. However, there is no guarantee that your costs will be reimbursed under the same conditions as if you had been able to prove that you had social security insurance at the time by presenting the card or an equivalent document. The doctor or medical establishment might well ask you to pay the full cost or to pay up front a proportion of the costs which an insured person in that same Member State would not be asked to pay. In an emergency your local health authority might be able to help by faxing or e-mailing you a provisional replacement certificate, which gives you the same protection as the European Health Insurance Card.

Both these categories of people (students and posted workers) are issued with a European Health Insurance Card which in their case replaces the E 128 form. The European Health Insurance Card gives them access to treatment that is necessary taking account of the duration of their stay. In the case of posting or studying, the period can be relatively long, and the range of treatment accessible may be more extensive than for a tourist staying only for a few days.

The card can be used to get easier access to medical treatment but it has nothing to do with repatriation. The card will not help transport you back home free of charge if you were to fall seriously ill or suffer a serious accident. For that situation, you will need separate insurance cover.

Yes, if you have a chronic medical condition (for example, in cases of asthma, diabetes, or cancer) you are entitled, during your temporary stay in another Member State, to treatment that is considered necessary, taking into account your medical condition. However, if your medical condition means that you need special medical surveillance, and in particular the use of special techniques or equipment (e.g. dialysis treatment), you may wish to organise your stay in advance to make sure that you will have access to the equipment or treatment you require. You can do this by contacting the local specialist medical unit in the country you will be visiting before you leave home.

Yes, the European Health Insurance Card covers all medical treatment in conjunction with your pregnancy, including child birth, while you are staying temporarily in another country. However, if you would like to give birth in another country, please contact your local health authority as you may need special authorisation (S2 form).

If you have forgotten or lost your card, you can ask your local authority to fax or e-mail you a provisional replacement certificate. This will give you the same entitlement as the card does.

Information for healthcare providers

- Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom,
- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,
- and Switzerland.

the European Health Insurance Card was introduced progressively from 1 June 2004 until 31 December 2005. Since 1 January 2006, it has been issued and is recognised in all the countries listed above.

The European health insurance card and the provisional replacement certificate have the same function. They both testify to the fact that the holder consulting you for treatment is insured. You should treat such persons as though they were insured in your own country and give them the treatment medically necessary for their condition, taking into account the nature of the treatment and their expected length of stay in your country. The tariff conditions fixed by the statutory social security scheme apply.

Yes, all Member States use the same design, bearing a European symbol. The aim is to ensure that the European Health Insurance Card is immediately recognised by doctors or health centres. The European Health Insurance Card contains a certain amount of obligatory information, presented in a standardised way so that the European Health Insurance Card can be read whatever the holder's language. This standard design is only on one side of the European Health Insurance Card. Member States are free to choose their own design for the other side.

The provisional replacement certificate is a document that is equivalent to the European Health Insurance Card. It acts as a replacement if the European Health Insurance Cardholder has lost or forgotten his Card, or if the sickness insurance institution is unable to issue the applicant with a European Health Insurance Card prior to his departure. It has the same value as the European Health Insurance Card.

A patient in possession of a European Health Insurance Card is entitled to all benefits in kind which "become medically necessary during a stay in the territory of another Member State, taking into account the nature of the benefits and the expected length of the stay". Therefore, he must be provided all the types of medical care and treatment that the patient's state of health necessitates to enable him to continue his stay in your country under safe medical conditions. The key is that he should not be obliged to cut short his visit in order to return to his country of residence for treatment. However, you are not obliged to provide certain kinds of treatment that can wait until the patient has returned home (most types of dental treatment, for example). The patient might well have problems obtaining reimbursement for treatment that goes beyond what is strictly necessary in the context of a temporary stay. In addition, some types of treatment extend over a period of time and necessitate follow-up which is not compatible with the temporary duration of the patient's stay in another country. In these cases, once the patient has received "holding" or primary treatment, generally speaking it is preferable for him to return to his own country of residence and his own doctor for further examinations or certain types of treatment.

If a patient has forgotten or lost his/her European Card, he/she can ask his/her sickness insurance institution to fax or e-mail you a provisional replacement certificate. This is equivalent to the European Health Insurance Card and will give him/her the same entitlement to health care and reimbursement of the associated costs incurred during a temporary stay in another Member State. This course of action is particularly advised if a patient need to be hospitalised.

Both these categories of persons (students and posted workers) are issued with a European Health Insurance Card. In their case it replaces the E 128 form. The European Health Insurance Card gives them access to treatment that is necessary taking account of the duration of their stay. In the case of posting or studying, the period can be relatively long, and the range of treatment accessible may be more extensive than for a tourist staying only for a few days.

The purpose of the European Health Insurance Card is to facilitate access to medical care during the holder's temporary stay in another Member State, and to speed up reimbursement of the costs incurred. It does not contain any medical information about the holder (e.g. blood group, medical history, etc.).

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