The number of EHIC holders has been steadily increasing, with 15 million more citizens carrying an EHIC in 2012 compared to the previous year.
The EHIC confirms that a person is entitled to receive emergency treatment in the host country's public healthcare system on the same terms and at the same cost as nationals of that country.
The card is issued for free by the national health insurance provider in the home country and cannot be used to cover planned treatment in another country.
In the vast majority of cases, patients presenting the EHIC receive the necessary healthcare and are reimbursed without any problems. In case the EHIC is not accepted, patients should contact the relevant health authority in the country they are visiting. In case of further refusal, patients should request support from their home country's health authorities. If they still encounter problems, patients should contact the European Commission, who can investigate the claims and raise the issue with the authorities of the country concerned, as it recently did with Spain.
The European Health Card application gives information about the card, emergency phone numbers, treatments that are covered and costs, how to claim reimbursement and who to contact in case you have lost your card.
The app covers 27 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It is available in 24 languages, with the option to switch from one language to another.
The app does not replace the card.