Brussels, 11 July 2013
European Health Insurance Card: two out of five Europeans carry one
Latest figures show that over 190 million people hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), allowing them to get emergency healthcare and so enjoy worry-free holidays when travelling within the European Union, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. The number of EHIC holders has been steadily increasing, with 15 million more citizens carrying an EHIC in 2012 compared to the previous year.
European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor said: "The European Health Insurance Card is a real success, with two out of five Europeans now holding a card that could save them time and money if they fall ill or get injured during a trip abroad. Most of the time, the EHIC works without any problems. However, if a Member State fails to fulfil its obligations under EU law and refuses to recognise the card, the Commission will take action to defend the rights of European citizens".
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. The EHIC cannot be used to cover planned treatment in another country.
Hospitals that provide public health services are obliged to recognise the EHIC. 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. The emergency contact numbers are easily accessible via the EHIC application for smartphones and tablets (see below). 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. The Commission can investigate the claims and raise the issue with the authorities of the country concerned, as it recently did with Spain (IP/13/474). Infringement procedures will be opened against any Member State not applying EU law on the use of the EHIC.
Download the app!
The EHIC 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 will soon be adapted to take into account the recent accession of Croatia to the EU.
The app does not replace the EHIC.
For more information
Subscribe to the European Commission's free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion