The European Health Insurance Card is a free of charge card which can be used across the European Economic Area to get emergency healthcare during travels. Citizens belonging to any of the countries of the European Economic Area can apply for this card. To be eligible for the European Health Insurance Card, the concerned person should also be covered under the social security system his country of residence.
The EHIC covers the medical treatment that a traveller may require due to unexpected circumstances. In addition to emergencies, one can also get treatment for chronic conditions such as dialysis for kidney failure. Routine medical support is also available under this scheme for pregnant women. It is necessary that such treatments are carried out at the state facility, as private medical treatment is not covered under the EHIC.
The EHIC will not cover any expenses incurred if the individual has travelled abroad for the purpose of medical treatment. Additionally, it will not cover non-emergency situations which can be treated later. For example, while maternity care is provided during travels, no medical cover is provided if the person travels to another country for the purpose of delivery.
Each of the member countries has specific rules with regard to what treatments/facilities come under the EHIC cover. Therefore, it is recommended that citizens go through specific guidelines of the countries that they are visiting to understand the benefits. For example, in Switzerland, any type of dental treatment is not covered under the scheme, where as in other nations like UK, Hungary and Ireland, dental treatment in emergency situations is covered.
The EHIC can be used by the cardholders to receive medical treatment in case of any emergencies that may arise during the travel to the nations that belong to the European Economic Area. The treatment will be given free or cost or at a low cost depending on the type of treatment required.
In addition to the types of treatments, there is a difference among nations on the charges related to the treatment. In certain nations, the individuals can get free treatment where as in some others; they are required to pay a subsidized fee. For instance, in Ireland, the treatment is extended free of cost to the person who has been covered by the insurance scheme, where as in nations like Finland, free treatment is only available to the individuals below the age of 18. Rest of the people have to pay a client fee based on the fixed charges. In certain countries like Greece, one can avail the free hospital treatment only if they are referred to the hospital by a doctor contracted by the public health system. In some nations, the person has to pay the full amount during the travel and the expenses are reimbursed by their original nation upon their return. Most of the countries do not provide coverage for air ambulance; Greece provides this facility free in the case of real emergencies and critical patients.