Do you know the advantages of a European Health Insurance Card?
If you are insured in a country of the European Union, you are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card. Do you know the benefits?
Issue of the European Health Insurance Card
Any person insured in an EU-Member State is entitled to a European Health Insurance Card. Each member of the insured person’s family in sickness insurance is issued an individual card.
Since 1 January 2006, the card is recognized globally. The card is designed on a common model with a European symbol, to ensure that it is immediately recognizable by doctors or medical centers. The card contains a series of mandatory information in standardized form so that the card is readable regardless of the user’s native language. The common model of the European Health Insurance Card covers only one side of the card; the other face remains at the free disposal of the Member States. It does not contain any information concerning the health of the holder (e.g. blood group, medical history, etc.).
The old E 111 forms have been replaced by the European Health Insurance Card and are no longer valid since 31 December 2005.
The health authority is obliged to deliver a European Health Insurance Card at first request. In the event that the card is not available immediately, a replacement certificate must be issued so that the patient can stay in peace abroad. If by chance you have forgotten or lost your European Health Insurance Card while abroad, you can have a temporary replacement certificate sent to you by fax or e-mail provided by your health authority. This procedure is particularly advisable if you have to be hospitalized.
If your application for a European Health Insurance Card is refused, you can claim your rights before a court.
What are the advantages of the European Health Insurance Card?
The presentation of the European Health Insurance Card guarantees you the payment or reimbursement of the costs for sickness benefits in kind provided on site.
The European Health Insurance Card relates only to sickness benefits in kind proving to be medically necessary, taking into account the nature of the services and the foreseeable duration of the stay. In other words, you are entitled to all the treatments and services rendered necessary by your state of health, so that you can continue your stay in medically safe conditions. You must not be forced to interrupt your stay before the date scheduled for treatment in your country of residence.
You can only benefit from the European Health Insurance Card if you contact healthcare providers who are approved by the compulsory health insurance system of the country where you are staying. If you visit a private doctor or a private hospital, you will not be able to claim the benefits of the European Health Insurance Card.
If you are suffering from a chronic illness requiring regular medical check-ups and short-term hospitalization abroad, your European Health Insurance Card will suffice as long as your illness does not require treatment available only in medical centers or specialists with adequate equipment and specialized personnel. If you have previously consulted with your attending physician and taken your medical record and essential medicines, you are entitled to medical benefits on site and can, if necessary, have your check-ups performed (in case of asthma or Diabetes, for example). During your stay abroad in another Member State, you are entitled to the medical care required by your state of health.
On the other hand, the card will not be sufficient if your illness requires special surveillance and especially the use of particular techniques or devices (for dialysis, for example). In your own interest, you should prepare such a stay in advance and request prior authorization by your health authority in order to make sure you have access to the necessary equipment during your stay.
Sickness benefits in kind are provided in accordance with the rules of the Member State in which you are staying. If, for example, benefits in kind are provided free of charge in the country of stay, you are also entitled to free treatment on presentation of your card.
If you are unable to prove that you are insured by the presentation of your European Health Insurance Card, the doctor or hospital may require you to pay the full fee or a certain amount as advance of costs, which would not have been required of an insured person of that Member State. For professional ethics, however, a physician can not refuse to provide care if your state of health makes them compulsory.