Almost 206 million Europeans already have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), according to the latest figures available for 2014.
This represents nearly 40% of the total insured population in the reporting Member States. As in previous years, the number of cards keeps increasing: there are six million more than in 2013 (+ 4%). Since 2009, the total rose by 10%.
The EHIC, available free of charge, confirms that a person is entitled to receive medical treatment that becomes necessary on a temporary stay abroad from the host country’s public healthcare system on the same terms and at the same cost as nationals of that country. The EHIC cannot be used to cover planned medical treatment in another country.
Hospitals that provide public health services are obliged to recognise the EHIC. In the vast majority of cases, patients presenting the EHIC receive the necessary healthcare and are reimbursed without any problems. In case the EHIC is not accepted, patients should contact the relevant health authority in the country they are visiting. The emergency contact numbers are easily accessible via the EHIC application for smartphones and tablets. In case of further refusal, patients should request support from their home country’s health authorities. If they cannot clarify the matter with the national authorities, they can contact Your Europe Advice for personalised advice on their EU rights, or SOLVIT if they consider their rights are not respected by public authorities in another EU country.
Citizens should be aware that the card is issued for free by their national health insurance provider in the home country, without any need of paying charges to intermediaries who offer help for the application process, as it has been reported to happen in some countries. Citizens should report such cases to the national health insurance authorities.
The European Commission continues to raise awareness on the card, and encourages Member States to do the same. Following a campaign run in 2014, the Commission produced a new EHIC promotional video.
The EHIC application gives information about the card, emergency phone numbers, treatments that are covered and costs, how to claim reimbursement and who to contact in case you have lost your card. The app covers 28 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It is available in 25 languages, with the option to switch from one language to another. However, the app does not replace the EHIC.