The EHIC is a document that was created mainly to allow people to travel around the EEC, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Lichtenstein. without having to worry about their health conditions. The card covered a wide range of illnesses from regular medical checkups to sudden health issues or accidents. Additionally, there are a couple of places, not mentioned in the list above, that have ties with the EU and would be able to provide medical assistance either free or at a reduced cost. However, applicants are not allowed to travel and use their EHIC card for planned medical procedures in other countries.
The European Health Insurance Card states that people travelling to another country would receive health care at the same price as the people in that country. This could in some circumstances mean free healthcare depending on the details of the country they are travelling to. However, there seem to be a few changes currently being discussed concerning Brexit but those should be handled soon and it seems that the UK is already negotiating terms where the Brexit verdict would not have a huge impact on the EHIC and healthcare of the people.
What is the process of using an EHIC card?
The EHIC card should be carried by the traveller when they are travelling across the EU. At the time of the procedure, they have to show the EHIC, along with their identification documents, usually their passport since it is the easiest document to find when travelling. The hospital would ideally have everything billed to the EHIC card.
People should do some research about the healthcare situation in the countries they are visiting. The EHIC doesn’t always guarantee free healthcare but matches the expense with the people from that country. Additionally, patients have to make sure they are taken to a public hospital since they are connected with the EHIC system. If they end up in the private system, they might have to bear the additional expenses. There is an exception to this rule in the form of a personal insurance company. If the patient has also applied for insurance and the company works with private hospitals, it makes sense to get treatment there.
Tourists should handle some amount of research on the countries they will be travelling to and the emergency procedures there. They should also go through the list of hospitals and have the closest public hospital to them and their details if they need to get in touch with them. Furthermore, there are some instances where hospitals might not accept the EHIC card at the moment, but if the patient can get proof that they showed the card at the hospital, they might be able to get a reimbursement when they are back in their country.
There are some expenses not covered by the EHIC and this is one of the reasons why people should apply for their insurance as well. That way they would be completely protected, in case of an emergency.