Brussels, 14 July 2008
Four years after its launch, 173 million people have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in their pocket. Citizens from 31 European countries can use the card to get the medical care they need if they fall ill or have an accident in one of the participating countries (the EU, Norway, Liechtenstein Iceland and Switzerland). The EHIC simplifies procedures and cuts red tape for citizens when disaster strikes during a temporary stay abroad.
"Like the euro, the European Health Insurance Card is a little piece of Europe in people's pockets," said Commissioner for Employment & Social Affairs Vladimír Špidla. "The card brings peace of mind to millions of Europeans when travelling abroad – whether they are on holiday, a work trip, or studying in another European country."
Although individual Member States are responsible for the distribution of the EHIC and issue it in their national language, the card shares a common design. So it is easily recognisable for medical staff, even if they do not speak the same language.
Today almost 173 million citizens have an EHIC in their pocket. The card is free, although it is necessary to be covered by a state sickness insurance scheme in one of the EEA States or in Switzerland.
Having an EHIC means that a patient is entitled to the same medical treatment as a local patient while the cost of the treatment will be completely or partly met by his or her sickness insurance scheme. However be aware that the EHIC can only be used in the framework of public health care provision and does not replace supplementary travel insurances.
For more information about the card and how to obtain one, see the EHIC
Video News Release on the EHIC :