Having replaced the previous e111 form in 2006, the European Health Insurance Card is now the standard EU health card for cross-continental travellers.
It also replaced the e110 form for truckers and the e128 form for overseas students and workers.
Here is a lowdown on the basics you need to know about the EHIC, what it covers, who can apply for it, how to apply for it and how to secure refunds with it.
The EU Health Card basics
The EHIC card is valid to use throughout the entire European Economic Area. This geographic region contains the member states of the European Union alongside Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway. In addition to these countries, it also covers Switzerland.
Each document is valid for between three and five years. You can apply for a new one up to six months before it expires.
It’s highly recommended that you keep your card up to date and to hand whenever travelling. Technically it is possible to still access medical care if you don’t have one, haven’t renewed it, have lost it or had it stolen.
In such situations, you can contact an overseas healthcare agent who will send a Provisional Replacement Certificate to the establishment you are receiving care at in order to prove you are eligible. Although this option is available, the inconvenience of it for yourself and officials means it is far easier to simply renew your EHIC in time.
So what does the European Health Card cover?
Your health card can cover any medical treatment that you desperately need while travelling abroad. This could be due to either an accident or illness. Ultimately it’s not how it happened that matters, but what has happened. This also includes for pre-existing and chronic conditions.
It gives you access to either free or reduced cost medical treatment from state healthcare providers. It’s worth emphasising the fact that you can’t access private healthcare with your EU Health Card.
Routine maternity care is also included, although the reason for your visit cannot be specifically to give birth. On top of that, the provision of renal dialysis, oxygen and routine medical care are also eligible.
One of the main clauses behind the European Health Card is that it enables you to receive treatment that is equal to that a local from that country would receive.
What doesn’t it cover?
There are some things your card cannot cover. It shouldn’t be considered a substitute for travel insurance, as an appropriate insurance policy is still very useful to have.
If you need to return to the UK for whatever reason then it cannot cover costs relating to travel. Equally, you can’t go to another country specifically to receive treatment there.
Given that it can only be used at state healthcare providers, you should also check whether there are any services provided in the particular area you are travelling to.
How do I apply?
Thankfully, it’s free to apply for, although you can pay for private services to help you through the application if you want to.
During the process you’ll need to provide a range of details, including your full name, address, date of birth and your National Insurance number or NHS number. If you come from Scotland then you will need your CHI number instead, and if you’re from Northern Ireland then you’ll need your Health and Care number.
When it comes to covering children and partners, you are able to apply on behalf of either. For children, they have to be under 16, or under 19 if they are still in full-time education. Foster parents, guardians and boarding school teaching staff are also allowed to apply on behalf of children. Ultimately, every member of your family needs to have an EHIC.
To go about the application, you can apply online through our online application form where we will check your details are correct which should ensure it is completed within seven working days.
Can I use the Health Card to secure refunds?
Yes you can. This is because, in some countries, you will be expected to cover your health bill when you’re being treated and then claim the money back using your EHIC.
As a general rule of thumb, always try to reclaim your money before returning home and keep all paperwork and receipts related to your treatment. They will help your insurance company and yourself later on.