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FAQ European Health Insurance Card

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The EHIC FAQ

Questions of general interest

  1. What purpose does the European Card serve when I am travelling in Europe?
  2. Does the European Card look the same in all Member States that issue it?
  3. Who is entitled to a European Health Insurance Card?

To have / not to have his or her European Card

  1. Where can I get more information and obtain a European Health Insurance Card?
  2. What if I go off on holiday to another Member State without any document? What will happen if I need medical treatment?
  3. During my visit I suddenly realise that I have forgotten or lost my European Card. What should I do?
  4. Can a doctor refuse to treat me if I have forgotten my European Card?
  5. My country has opted to introduce the European Card from 1 June 2004, but my sickness insurance institution refuses to issue a Card to me.

In need of treatment

  1. I am thinking of going to another Member State for medical treatment. Can I use the European Health Insurance Card for this?
  2. I have a chronic medical condition for which I have to see the doctor very regularly. I want to go to another Member State for a temporary stay. Will the European Card cover me for medical treatment there?
  3. Does the European Card contain medical information about the holder?

And the E111 form ?

  1. The European Health Insurance Card, the provisional replacement certificate or form E111 : which one of these do I need?
  2. I have an E 111 in my drawer. Is it still valid after 1 June 2004, or do I need to ask my sickness insurance institution for a European Card before I go on holiday?
  3. My country has opted not to introduce the European Card from 1 June 2004. What document do I need to obtain before I travel in Europe?

What purpose does the European Card serve when I am travelling in Europe?

The European Card or its equivalent document, the provisional replacement certificate, makes it easier for you to obtain access to medical treatment you may need while staying temporarily in another Member State.

Such treatment is provided in accordance with the rules of the Member State which you are visiting, and the costs incurred are reimbursed in line with the tariff scales applied in that Member State. For example, if medical care is provided free of charge in the Member State you are visiting, you too will be entitled to free medical care by presenting your Card or an equivalent document.

Presentation of the European Card guarantees you reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after your return home.

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Does the European Card look the same in all Member States that issue it?

Yes, all Member States use the same design, bearing a European symbol. The aim is to ensure that the Card is immediately recognised by doctors or health centres.

The Card contains a certain amount of obligatory information, presented in a standardised way so that the Card can be read whatever the holder's language. This standard design is only on one side of the Card. Member States are free to choose their own design for the other side.

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Who is entitled to a European Health Insurance Card?

Anyone who is insured by or covered by a statutory social security system in any Member States is entitled to a European Health Insurance Card. Since the European Card covers the cardholder only, each member of the insured person’s family needs to have their own.

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Where can I get more information and obtain a European Health Insurance Card?

You should always contact the sickness insurance institution to which you are affiliated. It is up to each Member State to decide how to organise the distribution of the European Card on its own territory.

N.B.:
Certain Member States have opted not to distribute the European Card yet. They will continue to issue the Form E 111 (new version) until 31 December 2005.

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What if I go off on holiday to another Member State without any document? What will happen if I need medical treatment?

If the need arises, you will of course receive the treatment necessary to enable you to continue your holiday without having to return home for treatment.

However, do not forget that these documents facilitate access to medical care on the spot, since they guarantee that you will receive treatment in accordance with the rules of the Member State which you are visiting and will get the costs reimbursed immediately, or at least very soon after your return home if you have been required to pay certain medical costs up front.

You are therefore strongly advised to carry your European Health Insurance Card or an equivalent document whenever you travel to any of the Member States of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, whether on private or professional business.

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During my visit I suddenly realise that I have forgotten or lost my Card. What should I do?

If you have forgotten or lost your European Card, you can ask your sickness insurance institution to fax or e-mail you a provisional replacement certificate. PDF

This is equivalent to the European Card and will give you the same entitlement to health care and reimbursement of the associated costs incurred during a temporary stay in another Member State. This course of action is particularly advised if you should need to be hospitalised.

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Can a doctor refuse to treat me if I have forgotten my European Card?

Medical ethics dictate that a doctor cannot refuse to treat you if your state of health necessitates treatment. The fact that you are unable to present your Card should have no bearing on your medical treatment. However, there is no guarantee that your costs will be reimbursed under the same conditions as would apply if you had been able to prove your insured status by presenting the European Card or an equivalent document.

The doctor or medical establishment might well ask you to pay the full cost, or to pay up front a proportion of the costs which an insured person in that same Member State would not be asked to pay. In an emergency your sickness insurance institution might be able to help by faxing or e-mailing you a provisional replacement certificate PDF.

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My Member State has opted to introduce the European Card from 1 June 2004, but my sickness insurance institution refuses to issue a Card to me.

If you ask for the European Card your sickness insurance institution is obliged to supply you with one, or alternatively with a provisional replacement certificate PDF if the European Card is not immediately available. It must supply you with one or the other of these documents so that you can depart on your holidays without any concerns.

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I am thinking of going to another Member State for medical treatment. Can I use the European Health Insurance Card for this?

In principle, no. The European Card covers only medical care “which becomes medically necessary during a stay in the territory of another Member State, taking into account the nature of the benefits and the expected length of the stay”.

In other words, you are entitled to all the medical treatment and care that your state of health requires in order for you to be able to continue your stay under safe medical conditions. You should not therefore be obliged to cut short your visit in order to return to your home country for treatment.

However, the European Card will not cover you if you have gone to another Member State for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment. If you want to have the costs of such treatment covered under the procedures laid down in (EEC) Regulation No 1408/71 PDF concerning the coordination of social security schemes, you must first obtain the agreement of your sickness insurance institution - Form E 112 - (Article 22(2) of Regulation 1408/71)

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I have a chronic medical condition (pre existing medical condition) for which I have to see the doctor very regularly. I want to go to another Member State for a temporary stay. Will the Card cover me for medical treatment there?

Yes, so long as your condition does not necessitate treatment by specialist medical units and/or units equipped with special equipment and/or appropriately trained personnel.

After you have seen your usual doctor and taken care to bring along your medical documents and details of the treatment you need, the medical services in the country where you are temporarily staying will be able to accept responsibility for your medical costs and perform any check-ups that may be necessary (for example in cases of asthma or diabetes). You are entitled, during your temporary stay in another Member State, to the treatment that is considered necessary, taking into account your medical condition.

The answer is no, however, if your medical condition necessitates special medical surveillance, and in particular the employment of special techniques or equipment (dialysis treatment, for example). For your security, you should organise your stay in advance by requesting a prior authorisation so as to be sure that you will be able to have access to the requisite equipment during your stay. You or your doctor should request this attestation from the institution which will be providing the requisite treatment in the country where you will be staying (according to what is stated in Decision No 196). PDF

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Does the Card contain medical information about the holder?

The purpose of the European Card is to facilitate access to medical care during the holder’s temporary stay in another Member State, and to speed up reimbursement of the costs incurred. It does not contain any medical information about the holder (e.g. blood group, medical history, etc.).

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The European Health Insurance Card, the provisional replacement certificate or form E 111 : which one of these do I need?

All three serve the same purpose.

They prove that you are insured in your own Member State, so that doctors and sickness insurance institutions in other Member States can easily assent to cover your medical costs, if necessary. They entitle you to be treated as if you were insured in the Member State which you are visiting.

From 1 June, if you are insured in certain Member States you will receive either the European Health Insurance Card or the provisional replacement certificate if the Card is not available.

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I have an E 111 in my drawer. Is it still valid after 1 June 2004, or do I need to ask my sickness insurance institution for a Card before I go on holiday?

You can keep your old E 111, issued before 1 June 2004, if your rights as an insured person have not changed. The old E 111 remains valid until the date indicated on it, but, in any case, not after 31 December 2004.

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My Member State has opted not to introduce the European Card from 1 June 2004. What document do I need to obtain before I travel in Europe?

From 1 June onwards you should ask your sickness insurance institution for a FormE111 (new version). However, the old E 111s remain valid until the date indicated on them, but, in any case, only until 31 December 2004.

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