Useful Travel Information

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Make the most of your holiday this summer, even if you do happen to have unlucky breaks. Having a vacation in the European Union should mean rest and relaxation. But for the unfortunate few, it means accident and emergency. Breaking your ankle while dancing in a beach club or while mountain climbing can spoil your holidays. Thanks to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), a card that in recent years has become a very important one to carry, you may be laying on the beach or be back in the mountains the very next day without a care in the world. It is bad enough having to deal with an accident or illness in a foreign language and even more stressful when you have to worry about the treatment procedures. The EHIC is a free card that ensures cardholders receive the same access to public sector health care as residents of the country they are visiting. It can be used by anyone, regardless of nationality, who is covered by the public healthcare system in any of the 27 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland .

Rising in popularity but a way to go
The European Commission recently announced new statistics showing that the number of cards in circulation has topped 180 million. In fact, the number of Europeans holding the card has increased every year since its introduction in 2004. However, despite this increase, still only 30% of European citizens have one.
Uniform layout
Thanks to its uniform layout, local healthcare providers in all participating countries know that the holder has statutory health coverage in their home country and that he or she is entitled to the same treatment as local patients. The EHIC also benefits both cardholders who become injured or sick while travelling abroad and healthcare providers by minimising paperwork.
“As more travellers carry the card, healthcare providers are becoming increasingly familiar with the procedures they should follow when dealing with foreign patients,” a European Commission representative said. “The same data is always in the same position on the card. The only difference is the length of validity – it is up to each Member State to decide how long the card is valid for.”
The hassle-free card
Replacing the E111 form, EHIC has simplified administrative procedures for patients and medical staff alike. The holder will have access to necessary healthcare services under the same conditions as a resident of that country. If those residents get public health care for free, then so will the European Health Insurance Card cardholder. If reimbursement is foreseen after payment, the patient can also be reimbursed under the same conditions.
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Executive Traveller 2003