The European Health Card enables you to get public healthcare while you are travelling. It is valid in another country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for a temporary period. As each country operates with a different healthcare system, some treatments will be free of charge and some will not. But what does the EHIC really cover?
Are there any EHIC cover exceptions?
The EHIC does not provide the same cover as a private travel insurance policy. It will not cover private healthcare. For example, if you are going on a cruise, the EU Health Card will not be operational. Indeed, it will not cover any treatment you may receive while you are at sea. The card will not cover the cost of repatriation to the UK or mountain rescue.
We recommend you to travel with both a valid private travel insurance policy and your EHIC to be sure:
- You can receive basic treatments as a local resident in the country you are visiting;
- It will cover you in case a more serious accident happens.
Insurers now strongly encourage their clients to hold an European Health Insurance Card, and will waive the excess in that case.
It is not allowed to travel to another country with the specific intention of receiving medical treatments or giving birth to a child. In such cases, the EHIC will not cover those costs.
There are parts of the EEA as Vatican City, Monaco, and San Marino, where you will not be able to use your EHIC as public healthcare may not be available.
What does the EHIC really cover?
As mentioned the European Health Card enables you to get public healthcare while you are travelling in another country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for a temporary period.
Most of the time, the treatments will be free of charge, or at a reduced cost. If you suffer from a chronic or pre-existing medical condition due to an illness or an accident, your routine medical care will be covered by your EHIC while you are travelling.
The European Health Insurance Card covers routine maternity care pre-delivery. It is forbidden to travel to a country with the intention to give birth to a baby. In that case, the EHIC will not cover the maternity costs. However, if you go into labor prematurely while you are travelling, the costs of all medical treatments for mother and baby will be covered.
The EHIC covers kidney dialysis and the provision of oxygen. However, you will need to arrange these treatments prior to your trip. These treatments will be covered if they are received in a public hospital or clinic. You can talk to your GP or hospital for advice.
Before receiving any treatment during your visit, make sure that it is a public hospital. If you receive treatments from a private clinic or hospital, the cost of these treatments will not be covered by the EU Health Insurance Card.