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Frequently Asked Questions - Sickness, maternity and paternity

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Your rights

In each country, national legislation establishes which benefits are to be granted and under which conditions. EU coordination rules ensure that when moving within Europe you will be treated under the same conditions as nationals of those countries.

Please remember that you will be entitled to sickness benefits in kind in the country where you reside according to the conditions which apply there, regardless of where you are insured.

On the contrary, you will receive benefits in cash from the country where you are insured, regardless of where you live and of the conditions which apply there.

>> For temporary stays or planned treatment visit our pages dedicated to healthcare abroad

Costs and reimbursement procedures all depend on the national legislation of each country.

What EU rules guarantee is that you will receive treatment under the same conditions as nationals of the country where you stay (temporarily) or reside. If nationals have to pay, so do you. If a treatment is free, it will be free for you too.

Please remember however, that if you are travelling abroad specifically to receive  healthcare, you need the prior authorisation of your competent health institution.

>> For temporary stays or planned treatment visit our pages dedicated to healthcare abroad

Benefits in kind provide, pay directly or reimburse the cost of medical care, related products, such as medicines, and related services. In other words, sometimes benefits in kind are actually provided in cash, e.g. when you receive a payment that reimburses healthcare treatment expenses.

As a general rule, these benefits are provided by the country where you reside or stay as if you were insured there. This may or may not be to your advantage in comparison to the legislation of the country where you are actually insured.

All procedures, deadlines and conditions for entitlement are decided at the national level, so contact your healthcare institution to find out about your rights. >> Use our directory to find a national contact institution

Benefits in cash are normally intended to replace an income (wages, salaries) which is suspended due to sickness or maternity/paternity.   Benefits provided in a specific situation, e.g. the dependence of a sick or disabled person on another person's assistance, may also be regarded as sickness benefits in cash.

The amount and duration of these benefits depend entirely on the legislation of the country where you are insured. All benefits in cash will normally be paid directly to you by the competent institution of this country, so contact your healthcare institution to find out about your rights. >> Use our directory to find a national contact institution

 

Necessary healthcare includes treatments that can avoid you having to return home before the end of your planned temporary stay abroad. It is up to the healthcare provider to determine which treatment is necessary considering the length of your stay.

What's your situation?

The main principle is that the country where you are insured is the country which pays your pension. If you receive a pension from more than one country and one of them is the country where you reside, this country will be responsible for your healthcare coverage and that of your family members. However, you will always be entitled to benefits in kind, e.g. healthcare and medicines, in the country where you decide to settle.

For this, you need to register with the social security institution there, regardless of where you are insured. You must ask the country which pays your pension for an S1 form that you will then use to register with the healthcare institution where you live. You will receive treatment as if you were insured there and under the same conditions as nationals.

If you receive no pension from the country where you reside, the country who pays your pension will reimburse the country where you reside for the services provided to you and to your family members. This reimbursement procedure takes place between institutions. 

The country which pays your pension is also responsible for issuing your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Sickness benefits in cash are provided by the country where you are insured. >> Visit our pages dedicated to the EHIC

As a cross-border worker you may access healthcare either in the country where you reside or in the country where you work. In many cases, it will be more practical for you to receive healthcare in the country where you work and where you spend most of your time.

The members of your family enjoy the same rights as you in: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

As from 1 May 2014, the same rights will also be guaranteed by: Estonia, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary and the Netherlands.

You have the same right to receive healthcare in both countries even after retiring if both your country of former employment and the country that is responsible for your social security coverage as a pensioner are among the following: Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Austria and Portugal.

For further enquiries contact your social security institution. For other options see our section and frequently asked questions on sickness benefits or >> use our directory to find a national contact institution

If you go temporarily abroad to study, you should make sure you apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with your current insurance institution before leaving. >> Visit our pages dedicated to the EHIC

When you are "posted" by your employer, or you "post" yourself as a self-employed person, to work in another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will remain covered by the legislation of your country of origin.

As posting is always limited in time (i.e. maximum 24 months) you can use your European Health Insurance Card during your stay. An A1 form will allow you to prove that you are insured in your country of origin for other purposes. >> Visit our pages dedicated to the EHIC

Your claims

The way healthcare schemes work varies from country to country. If you decide to move abroad, you should contact the local healthcare institution to find out about procedures and deadlines.

If you work abroad, you and the members of your family are covered by the social security legislation of that country in exactly the same way as nationals (special rules apply to posted workers and to mariners).

If you do not work but have moved for other reasons, you must ask the country where you are insured for a European Health Insurance Card for temporary stays or an S1 form to register with the local healthcare scheme.

If you have a doubt about which country is responsible for your social security coverage, contact the local institutions >> Use our directory to find a national contact institution

Whenever certain conditions have to be fulfilled before you become entitled to benefits, the institution examining your claim must take account of periods of insurance, residence or employment completed under the legislation of other countries. This is a guarantee that you will not lose your sickness insurance coverage when changing employment and moving to another country.

For example, in some countries, you may only become entitled to sickness benefits after six months of insurance there. EU rules ensure that you will be entitled to sickness benefits from the beginning of your insurance period there if you had previously been covered for 6 months or more in any other EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

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